Biden Pardons Eleven People, Commutes Five

Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash

( – On Wednesday, President Joe Biden extended presidential pardons to 11 individuals and commuted the sentences of five others, all of whom were convicted on charges related to non-violent drug offenses. This announcement from the White House marks the continuation of Biden’s broader criminal justice reform efforts, which aim to address and rectify what he has described as excessively harsh sentences that would be considered disproportionate under today’s legal standards.

Highlighting the broader context of this issue, President Biden pointed out that these individuals received sentences that were significantly longer than what they would likely face under current laws, policies, and practices. His actions reflect a commitment to rectifying these disparities as part of a larger agenda to overhaul the criminal justice system.

The United States holds a stark discrepancy in its incarceration rates, housing about 20% of the world’s imprisoned population despite having less than 5% of the global population. This statistic has prompted the Biden administration to unveil initiatives focused on reducing “unnecessary” incarcerations. The strategy includes not only decreasing the number of incarcerations but also enhancing rehabilitation programs for those imprisoned and bolstering support systems to aid in the reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals into society.

A notable example from the list of those pardoned is Dr. Katrina Polk, a 54-year-old resident of Washington, D.C. At the tender age of 18, Polk pleaded guilty to a non-violent drug charge. After serving her time and completing the terms of her supervised release, she went on to pursue higher education fervently, eventually earning a PhD in public policy and administration. Her story exemplifies the potential for transformation and redemption that the administration aims to underscore with these pardons.

These recent pardons and commutations build on actions from the previous year, where in December, Biden significantly reduced the prison sentences of 11 individuals serving lengthy terms for non-violent drug offenses. Additionally, he pardoned potentially thousands of people convicted of marijuana possession under federal or Washington, D.C. law, reflecting a shift in perspective towards drug-related offenses, particularly those involving cannabis.

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