The holidays are approaching and still the U.S. Congress has yet to move or act on any agenda surrounding prison reform. Criminal (prison) and social reform has become race and class-based issues that seem to be off “the radar” for most politicians who only give lip service to its importance. For many of us who are affected by Congress’ persistent inaction, times like these have become all too familiar and frustrating. The War on Drugs lives on, destroying minority communities and affecting social change. It’s biased policies still flourish and are in full effect. So what do we do? We must vote these Congressional members OUT!
So I was asked by prisoners and those in minority communities how this election will affect them. Many prisoners have been misinformed about the significance of the presidency and how this directly affects minorities. The short answer? The Law and Order rhetoric used by Trump is the same rhetoric used by NIXON and REAGAN. So as President Obama put it, Trump will effectively “kill [his] legacy”. The Clemency Project 2014 is part of Obama’s Legacy Program, as is a litany of other broad based programs and policies that effect prisoners and minority families.
The biggest impact of this election will be on the Supreme Court. Some believe Trump could have the opportunity to nominate three justices over the next eight years. What does this mean? This can change the outcome of many 5-4 votes, effectively changing the legal landscape for minorities on a wide range of issues.
Moreover, the President nominates the Attorney General. The Attorney General (AG) plays a significant role in criminal justice policy. The AG, in my opinion, affects the culture in
the U.S. Circuit and U.S District Courts.
Let’s see where it goes . . .
I get hundreds of questions about clemency. CAPRICE JENERSON of the Clemency Project 2014 recently informed me that no more clemency petitions are being accepted at this
time. It will be up to the NEW ADMINISTRATION to continue Obama’s Legacy Program, which includes the Clemency Project 2014. I do applaud FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums), as they have grown more vocal about the broader inequalities in sentencing and not just mandatory minimums. Just because the Clemency Project is officially closed does not mean we can’t influence the Pardon Office to persuade the new President to continue granting clemency on a broader basis. The people have the power
to change things.
I have never witnessed so many substantial and favorable criminal law decisions before as I did in 2016. This gives me an indication that we finally have a Supreme Court (SCOTUS) that views law and its application differently. Far too long have courts acquiesced laws detrimental to the social, economic and criminal issues affecting minority communities. I pray the SCOTUS and its new member(s) continue the progress beyond 2016.
I am hard on attorneys and those who provide legal services and seem to care more about a dollar than the result. I have heard too many stories about lawyers taking people’s money and doing nothing and, for that matter, not really caring. I am all about WINNING litigation. I believe 85% of cases can be won or end more favorably than they routinely do. My book The Art of Winning Litigation is all about this philosophy. In that spirit, I have met some acquaintances who I believe are really out to help minorities and others with criminal justice and prison issues.
One of these fine men is Michael Santos. He runs a group called the Prison Professor based in Irvine, California. He hosts a PODCAST called Earning Freedom and wrote a course Earning Freedom Mastermind Program that is now being implemented at USP ATWATER. Mike is all about criminal justice reform, prison out-reach and prisoner re-entry.
Re-entry is very important to everyone incarcerated. We already see post-conviction rehabilitation playing a significant role in the courts. From the cases I have been involved with or privy to that have not been published, what the prisoner did in prison played a significant factor in the defendant getting relief. Prisoners with a ton of disciplinary infractions do not be discouraged. An abrupt change to programming and involvement with prison programs that promote moral recognition weigh heavily in favor of courts granting defendants relief as well.
The reason why I blog and continue to answer FREE queries is because I KNOW together we can effect CHANGE. Change is needed, and change is long over due. We won’t get anything by complaining. We must organize and work together to change the conditions that affect our lives.