Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mr. Obama’s Trickle of Mercy

This month, President Obama announced the latest winners of the annual lottery otherwise known as the presidential clemency process.

This year, the lucky ones were 95 federal prisoners whose absurdly long sentences — mostly for relatively minor drug offenses — the president commuted on the grounds of “justice and fairness.” Mr. Obama also pardoned two people for long-ago financial crimes. Each of these grants of clemency is wonderful news for those individuals. But they are drops in a very large bucket.

After seven years in office, Mr. Obama has issued a total of 184 commutations and 66 pardons — more grants, as the White House wasted no time in pointing out, than the last six presidents combined. But that’s a pitifully low bar, since Mr. Obama’s most recent predecessors all but abandoned the practice.

Mr. Obama knows this is a far deeper problem than can be solved by a few dozen grants. There are 9,000 applications for commutations that have not been acted on. The administration solicited applications like these in 2014 as part of a sweeping clemency initiative aimed at federal inmates who have served at least 10 years of a sentence that would be shorter today because the law has changed. To be eligible, prisoners must also have been convicted of a low-level, nonviolent offense, have no “significant” criminal history, and have behaved while behind bars.

At the time, the initiative seemed a big step toward reversing some of the gravest injustices of the nation’s decades-long drug war, most obviously for the thousands of inmates still serving time for crack cocaine offenses that are punished far less harshly today.

Less than two years later, however, the vast majority of applications remain in limbo. A coalition of volunteer defense lawyers working alongside the Justice Department has struggled to get basic information on applicants. The department itself is hopelessly mired in bureaucratic tangles and institutional conflicts of interest.

By the administration’s own estimates, as many as 10,000 people could be released under the new criteria, former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. told The Washington Post this month. So why is Mr. Obama continuing to make grants in the single or double digits?

One reason is the Justice Department; the clear solution is to run the process directly out of the White House. The president may also be wary of undercutting a package of bipartisan sentencing reforms making its way through Congress. But that legislation is far from a done deal, and may be on even shakier ground now that one of the leading Republican presidential candidates, Senator Ted Cruz, rejects reforms he previously supported.

Regardless of what Congress does, the presidential power of mercy is explicit in the Constitution, it is unlimited, and presidents once used it far more freely to correct injustices. It is a “tool of public morality,” as one former federal prosecutor put it. If Mr. Obama truly wants to reinvigorate this moribund process, he has a year left to do it. The job requires only two things: a pen and the political will. There is no question that Mr. Obama has the pen.

Source:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/opinion/mr-obamas-trickle-of-mercy.html


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Special Report: Pentagon thwarts Obama's effort to close Guantanamo

Since Obama took office in 2009, Pentagon officials have been throwing up bureaucratic obstacles to thwart the president's plan to close Guantanamo.  Negotiating prisoner releases with the Pentagon was like "punching a pillow," said James Dobbins, the State Department special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2013 to 2014. Defense Department officials "would come to a meeting, they would not make a counter-argument," he said.

More:  http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-gitmo-release-special-report-idUSKBN0UB1B020151229


6 Powerful Music Videos That Tackled Pressing Social Issues In 2015

From Bob Dylan’s “Blowin in the Wind” to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” musicians have a long history of incorporating protest and social issues into their songs. And just like in 1963 and 1989, 2015 was no different. Hip-hop artists rapped about ending police brutality and advocated for better treatment for refugees. Singers lent their voices to victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Other musicians contemplated free health care and marriage equality. As seen in the music videos below, the artists used different visual tactics—stark black-and-white, cheery animation, and even an epic dance party—but each encouraged fans to challenge the status quo

More:  http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/12/27/music-videos-2015


Homeland Defense: The Pentagon Declares War On America

The Department of Defense now authorizes the domestic deployment of US troops  in “the conduct of operations other than war”  including law enforcement activities and the quelling of “civil disturbances”: “Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances…

These developments –which are currently the object of heated debate– are the result of  more than ten years of “repressive legislation” which increasingly points to the “fusion of the police and military functions both within the US and abroad”.



Tell The USTR What You Think About The TPP

According to the Federal Register, the Office of the US Trade Representative announced on Dec. 28 that it “is seeking public comments on the impact of the TPP Agreement on U.S. employment, including labor markets.” The open comment period extends until January 13, 2016. It is critical that as many people as possible write to them about this. (In 2014, millions of public comments pouring into the FCC saved the Internet) We make it easy with step-by-step instructions, information about the TPP's impact on labor with links to places where you can read more and a sample comment that you can copy and paste. This only takes a few minutes to do. Please share this with others. Let's flood the USTR with comments opposing the TPP!

More:  http://www.flushthetpp.org/your-chance-to-officially-tell-the-ustr-what-you-think-about-the-tpp/

A disproportionate number of black victims in fatal traffic stops

A disproportionate number of blacks are killed by police after traffic stops. Not because the police necessarily shoot them more often than white or Hispanic drivers, but because black motorists are disproportionately stopped by the police in the first place.

More:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/a-disproportionate-number-of-black-victims-in-fatal-traffic-stops/2015/12/24/c29717e2-a344-11e5-9c4e-be37f66848bb_story.html


Chasing a Killer

Many critics, including David Simon of “The Wire,” say the war on drugs has made Baltimore detectives unfocused, lazy, and unable to efficiently solve even the most basic murder cases. In September, the Baltimore police invited reporters to test that theory by embedding in its homicide unit to observe a murder investigation. The result is a multi-part series that gives a rare glimpse at the patterns and practices of investigators.

More:  http://data.baltimoresun.com/homicide-embed/


More Police Officers Facing Charges, but Few See Jail

What was once a rarity has now become increasingly common: police officers facing criminal charges in the deaths of civilians. In Albuquerque, two officers will stand trial in the death of a homeless man. In Cincinnati, a campus police officer has been charged in the fatal shooting of a man during a traffic stop. In Chicago, where a video captured the death of Laquan McDonald at the hands of the police, an officer was charged with murder.

But even as high-profile police shootings have attracted more scrutiny over the past year, one thing remains clear: The law gives the police the benefit of the doubt.

That was the case on Monday, when a grand jury declined to indict two Cleveland police officers in the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

The local prosecutor said the shooting of the boy as he played with a toy gun in a park was tragic but not criminal.

More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/30/us/more-police-officers-facing-charges-but-few-see-jail.html


Portland, OR. Film Screening - Warrior: The Life of Leonard Peltier. Feb. 6, 2016

The International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee presents

Warrior: The Life of Leonard Peltier


Venue

Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St, Portland, OR 97202, United States

Description

Warrior: The Life of Leonard Peltier
February 6, 2016
7:00-9:00 pm
$5-$10 sliding scale donation

Join us for a special film screening of this documentary about Native American Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier. The film features special interviews with Leonard himself, activist and experts on the case of his wrongful and political incarceration. Leonard's son, Chauncey Peltier, will hold a Q&A after the film so you can find out how to get involved in the clemency campaign. Leonard's artwork will also be on display and for sale!


6 February, NYC: International day of solidarity with Leonard Peltier

Samidoun endorses this commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the imprisonment of American Indian Movement activist and political prisoner Leonard Peltier, organized by NYC Free Peltier, and encourages all supporters of political prisoners in the New York City area to promote and attend it.

In the meantime, please urge the White House to grant Peltier executive clemency by calling it and writing to President Barack Obama using the form below, created and maintained by Friends of Peltier.

Save the date

Saturday, February 6, 2016 2-5 p.m.
International Solidarity with Leonard Peltier
Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center
1199 Auditorium
310 West 43 Street (between 8 and 9 Avenues)
New York, NY

Opening prayer and flute — Frank Menusan  (Muskogee)

Keynote Speaker — Martin Garbus
Prominent trial attorney and head of Leonard’s Legal Team

Please join us as we work for freedom for Leonard Pelter.

Light refreshments will be served.

Stay tuned — More participants to be announced.


A Legacy of Shame: Canadian Mining Companies leave behind decades of violence in Guatemala

Wherever Canadian mining companies operate, they have an indelible imprint on the social, political and environmental realities in which they insert themselves. In countries that are politically unstable or where a culture of impunity is permitted to thrive, that imprint can span generations with successive mining companies following in the footsteps of their predecessors. Such is the legacy of shame that the Maya Q’eqchi people in Guatemala have been forced to endure for the last half century.

More:  https://intercontinentalcry.org/a-legacy-of-shame-canadian-mining-companies-leave-behind-decades-of-violence-in-their-wake/


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Wounded Knee: Healing the Wounds of the Past

Tuesday, December 29, 2015, marks the 125th anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee, a “sad and horrible event” Native and non-Native Americans still struggle to comprehend. This article, by historian Mark Hirsch, was first published in American Indian, the membership magazine of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

The winter wind blows cold along Wounded Knee Creek, which threads the badlands and prairies of southwestern South Dakota. This is hallowed ground for the Sioux Nation—a powerful place of sorrow, remembrance, and healing. Here, on December 29, 1890, some 300 of their ancestors—men, women, and children—were killed by soldiers of the Seventh Cavalry.

Memories of the Massacre at Wounded Knee have always run deep in Lakota Country. For survivors and their families, the event was a slaughter of innocents. For others, Wounded Knee was a battle—“the last major armed encounter between Indians and whites in North America,” according to historian Robert Utley.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/12/29/wounded-knee-healing-wounds-past-162896

8 Ways to Learn About Wounded Knee


This year is the 125th anniversary of the December 29, 1890 massacre of a band of Miniconjou Lakota led by Chief Spotted Elk, who was called Big Foot by the government. Where can those interested learn more about that tragic event? Here are 8 resources to check out.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/12/28/8-ways-learn-about-wounded-knee-162885

Healing Continues 125 Years After Wounded Knee Massacre

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the Wounded Knee massacre. On December 29, 1890, as many as 300 innocent and unarmed Lakota men, women, children, infants, and elders were gunned down by the United States 7th Cavalry at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota. After the bloodshed, Chief Big Foot (Spotted Elk) and his band lie dead in the snow where they remained frozen for three days, until all were buried in a mass grave.

For decades, the Wounded Knee massacre was masqueraded as a battle, and marked in many American history books as such. A few months following the massacre, the United States government awarded 20 troops of the U.S. 7th Cavalry with the Medal of Honor, and to this day, those medals have yet to be rescinded.

RELATED: Rescind the Medals of Dishonor

Nearly a century following the massacre, history books finally acknowledge that what occurred at Wounded Knee was no battle, but an all-out massacre.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/12/28/manning-healing-continues-125-years-after-wounded-knee-massacre-162895

Wrongful Convictions: Is the Tide Shifting?

...Adams, whose saga is featured in my book, “Stolen Years: Stories of the Wrongfully Imprisoned,” is one of the 1,700 people who have been exonerated in the United States since 1989. Though that number might seem impressive, consider that between 2.3 and 5 percent of men and women currently incarcerated in this country are not guilty of the crimes they were charged. That could put the number of the wrongfully convicted currently locked up time as high as 100,000.

Most of these people will serve their sentences to the end. This may happen because they’ve given up fighting or, more likely, because their fight is unwinnable for any number of reasons: The evidence was lost or destroyed, the fraudulent accuser refuses to recant, or they can’t find a lawyer to take their case.



A year of reckoning: Police fatally shoot nearly 1,000

Nearly a thousand times this year, an American police officer has shot and killed a civilian.

When the people hired to protect their communities end up killing someone, they can be called heroes or criminals — a judgment that has never come more quickly or searingly than in this era of viral video, body cameras and dash cams. A single bullet fired at the adrenaline-charged apex of a chase can end a life, wreck a career, spark a riot, spike racial tensions and alter the politics of the nation.

More:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2015/12/26/a-year-of-reckoning-police-fatally-shoot-nearly-1000/


Enbridge and the Takeover of Red Lake Land

On February 28, 2013, a .45 acre of Red Lake ceded land became the focus of Anishinaabe land defenders and pipeline activists. Led by Red Lake member Marty Cobenais, the Nizhawendaamin Inaakiminaan (We Love Our Land) group established an encampment over the Enbridge pipelines at Leonard, Minnesota. Cobenais said at the time, “We plan to camp on this land until the pipelines cease to pump oil through them.”

Although the encampment wasn’t sanctioned by the Red Lake Tribal Council, a Red Lake District Representative visited the site and informed Cobenais that the pipelines were illegally on Red Lake land and the council wanted them removed.

A sacred fire was lit and a medicine pole was erected. The camp continued through the late winter into the early fall. It was supported by environmentalist and activist groups including the Indigenous Environmental Network and MN350.



Cleveland Officer Will Not Face Charges in Tamir Rice Shooting Death

CLEVELAND — A grand jury declined on Monday to charge a Cleveland patrolman who fatally shot a 12-year-old boy holding a pellet gun, capping more than a year of investigation into a case that added to national outrage over white officers killing African-Americans.

In announcing the decision, Timothy J. McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, said he had recommended that the grand jurors not bring charges in the killing of the boy, Tamir Rice, who was playing with the gun outside a recreation center in November 2014.

More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/29/us/tamir-rice-police-shootiing-cleveland.html


Monday, December 28, 2015

Last Week's News in Indian Country

DARKNESS INTO LIGHT: The darkest day and longest night of the year came and went on December 21, meaning that from here on in it gets lighter and lighter. And on December 25, of course, those who celebrate commemorated the coming of the light, this year literally, with the first Christmas full moon since 1977. Building up to the 6:11 a.m. peak fullness on December 25, the moon followed the path of the June sun through the sky, making it the Long Night Moon, or Cold Moon.

GIVING SPIRIT: In another kind of light, some philanthropy was in the offing. The Morongo Band of Mission Indians donated copy00,000 for its annual Christmas Cheer All Year shopping spree, which benefits disadvantaged children, and this year included 600 youngsters from the San Gorgonio Pass. In all, 3,500 disadvantaged children received part of this bounty.

HEALING FUNDS: In a more somber vein, the Morongo joined with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to donate $600,000 to aid the victims of the December 2 terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 14 people at a disabilities service center in San Bernardino, California. The tribes donated to the San Bernardino United Relief Fund, launched by the health and human services nonprofit Arrowhead United Way.

DARKNESS REVISITED: Of course, any light dawning at this time of year is overshadowed by the December 26 hanging of the Dakota 38, back in 1862, although it has been 153 years since the largest mass execution ever conducted in the United States. Besides those who were hanged, 265 others were convicted in sham military commissions, and more than 3,000 Dakota people were held captive, then forced on a death march west out of Minnesota. The Dakota 38 riders are making their way to Mankato, Minnesota to honor the 38 men whose lives were snuffed out on that awful day.

NOT SO BRIGHT: As much as we’d like to herald the coming of the light in all areas and put attitudes that led to events such as the Dakota 38 behind us, there are yet some holdouts who apparently did not get the memo about the 21st century. To wit: Brazilian lawmaker Fernando Furtado was branded Racist of the Year by the UK-based tribal-advocacy group Survival International, for saying of indigenous people, “let them die of hunger in poverty” and referred to them as “those little fags.” The lawmaker represents the northern Amazonian state of Maranhão and belongs to the Brazilian Communist Party.

WHEN WILL THEY EVER LEARN? Thomas Munson, 76, of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on January 4, 2016, on embezzlement and theft charges. He is accused of stealing several ancient Native American remains from the Effigy Mound Monument federal museum in Iowa. Munson, former National Parks Service superintendent of the Effigy Mounds National Monument, was charged in federal court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with one count of misdemeanor embezzlement and theft on December 16.

METH BUST: Twenty-one members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe are facing federal or tribal charges following an 18-month investigation into methamphetamine trafficking on the reservation. The investigation, launched in May 2014, yielded criminal charges against a total of 34 individuals, including 13 non-Natives.

HOLIDAY HIGH JINX: For a non-drug high, many went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and award winning artist and designer from the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe in Kingston, Washington, Jeffrey Veregge was among them. Then as now, the movie had a profund effect.
“For this Indian, it was the catalyst that activated my true self nearly 40 years ago,” he wrote of the first film. “I can’t imagine who I would be if it not been for George Lucas, Kenner Toys, Marvel Comics and their contributions that feed my appetite for all things Star Wars as a kid. In an age where DVDs were not even heard of, that is how most of us kept the spirit of the Force alive in our young lives.”

EARLY CHRISTMAS PRESENT: The Tonto Apache Tribe of Arizona received an early Christmas gift as Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn signed a reservation proclamation quadrupling the tribe’s land into trust. On December 22 Washburn announced that approximately 292 acres of trust land in the city of Payson, Gila County, Arizona belonging to the tribe would be added to the tribe’s existing reservation under the authority of the Indian Reorganization Act of June 18, 1934 (48 Stat. 984: 25 U.S.C. 467).

HIGHWAY OF TEARS: A 1,600-mile-long stretch of road known as the Highway of Tears for the number of mostly aboriginal women who have gone missing while hitchhiking along it—in the absence of public transport—will get some safety measures thanks to $3 million pledged by the provincial government of British Columbia. It’s part of a five-point action plan designed to provide safe, practical and sustainable transportation for communities along the Highway 16 corridor.

PIONEERING LAWYER DEPARTS: Hans C. Walker Jr., one of the first Native American lawyers to lead the push to enforce tribal treaty rights, died at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, on Sunday, December 20, at age 89.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/12/27/week-was-big-stories-indian-country-december-27-2015-162886


When Dying Alone in Prison Is Too Harsh a Sentence

In our prison system, there are various programs called “compassionate release” or sometimes “medical parole,” whereby elderly or seriously ill prisoners may be released to the community before the end of their sentence. Since 1992, 371 people have been released through the medical parole program in New York State. (For the sake of comparison, about 100 inmates die from natural causes every year in the New York prison system.) Only 30 inmates filed applications for medical release in 2014, of whom 17 were released and six died before their review. In the federal prison system, the numbers are even more dismal; 101 federal inmates were approved for compassionate release in 2014 out of a total federal prison population of 214,000 people.

More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/28/opinion/when-dying-alone-in-prison-is-too-harsh-a-sentence.html


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas


REJECT CALLS FOR UNCONSTITUTIONAL SURVEILLANCE

In the aftermath of the events in Paris and San Bernardino, some politicians are trying to exploit our fears to implement unprecedented levels of surveillance of Americans. Congress just passed sweeping surveillance legislation in a process that didn’t allow for meaningful debate or public commentary. Now, some representatives are attacking encrypted communications—a move that technology and intelligence experts have argued would actually lower our cybersecurity defenses.

These are dangerous developments that threaten our right to privacy, free speech, free association — the very core of our free society. We each need to speak out now.

Sign the Petition

Tamir Rice’s Family Clashes With Prosecutor Over Police Killing

The Cleveland grand jury has been conducting its work in private, investigating the police shooting of a 12-year-old boy named Tamir Rice that set off protests nationwide. But a steady stream of evidence has been trickling out to the public.

There was a sheriff’s report that said the rookie officer who killed Tamir felt he had “no choice” because the boy had reached for a pellet gun that looked like a real pistol. There were statements from the officer, Timothy Loehmann, and his partner that they saw the boy pulling the toy from his pants, ignoring warnings to show his hands. And there were reports from three experts called by the prosecutors that concluded that Officer Loehmann had acted reasonably because he believed that Tamir had a real gun and posed a serious threat.

The release of so much material being reviewed by a working grand jury might be considered unusual, but these were not leaks: The evidence was made public by the Cuyahoga County prosecutor himself, Timothy J. McGinty.

More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/24/us/tamir-rices-family-and-prosecutor-quarrel-over-release-of-evidence.html


Mumia In Court: Devastating Cross Examination

It was a day of dueling doctors, admissions, explosive documents, and first hand testimony, which debated the constitutional right to health care while in prison. The question: does Mumia Abu-Jamal receive life saving new anti viral drugs that cure Hepatitis C? or will Judge Robert Mariani's federal court allow the Department of Corrections in Pennsylvania to deny any treatment for chronic Hepatitis C - and maintain (a just revealed protocol) that calls for "denying care" and "monitoring imates" while the virus ravages the body causing irreversible organ damage. In an explosive revelation: Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center, dissected the testimony of DOC defense witness infirmary administrator, Mr. Steinhart - revealing that there is a written Hep C treatment protocol that was developed this year. Overheard in the courtroom, DOC associate defense counsel noted that they did not want this document available publically because it would incre ase the department's liability in the class action pending for inmate Hep C treatment.

More:  https://www.popularresistance.org/mumia-in-court-devastating-cross-examination/


#BlackLives Matter MN At Mall Of America, Transit & Airport

Black Lives Matter Minnesota raised its voice in multiple locations December 23rd, disrupting shopping, the metro system and the airport to protest the November killing of Jamar Clark, a black man by Minneapolis police. Their demands: -#ReleaseTheTapes of his killing -Prosecute the police involved without a grand jury by a special prosecutor -Federal domestic terrorism charges against white supremacists who shot 5 protestors -Institute a safety plan to protect our communities from Police violence -Disinvest from police and reinvest in Black futures There was litigation by Mall of America, which feared a repeat of last year's Black Lives Matter protest. While media reports were confused the court did not block a protest at Mall of America.

More:  https://www.popularresistance.org/blacklives-matter-mn-at-mall-of-america-transit-airport/


If the Keystone XL Pipeline Is Dead, South Dakota Regulators Didn't Get the Memo

TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline is not dead. The company's plans for the South Dakota part of the pipeline are still in play after the South Dakota Public Utility Commission denied a motion to throw out the company's request to certify its expired permit.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34169-if-the-keystone-xl-pipeline-is-dead-south-dakota-regulators-didn-t-get-the-memo


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

At Last, Violence Against Women Act Lets Tribes Prosecute Non-Native Domestic Abusers

WASHINGTON -- Two years after Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, Native American tribes can finally take advantage of one of the law's most significant updates: a provision that allows tribal courts to investigate and prosecute non-Native men who abuse Native women on reservations.

Starting Saturday, tribes can claim jurisdiction over non-Native men who commit crimes of domestic violence, dating violence or who violate a protection order against a victim who lives on tribal land. Until now, that jurisdiction has fallen to federal or state law enforcement, who are often hours away from reservations and lack the resources to respond. The result has effectively allowed non-Native abusers immunity from punishment.

For the first time, tribal law enforcement will now have the ability to intervene.

More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/06/vawa-native-americans_n_6819526.html


What Everyone Gets Wrong About Christmas Pardons

Yes, it’s true that presidents and governors tend to show more mercy toward prisoners and ex-offenders around the holiday season. But it’s also true that most of these acts of compassion aid ex-offenders who already are free (through pardons) rather than free prisoners outright (through commutation). TMP’s Caroline Grueskin has the story — and it’s not all bah humbug!

More:  https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/12/23/what-everyone-gets-wrong-about-christmas-pardons


The hard truth about the Paris climate deal



https://youtu.be/rqxF7uecNnQ


2015 Human Rights Report Card

The U.S. Human Rights Network has released its 2015 Human Rights Report Card. For 2015, USHRN has decided to use the format of a report card. Use the report as an organizing tool to strengthen and grow a people-centered human rights movement in the US towards a society where all people and Peoples can enjoy the full spectrum of human rights. You can download and share a infographic with the overall grades, too!


#BlackLivesMatter Refuses To Back Down To Mall Of America Intimidation

The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., has asked a court to keep Black Lives Matter activists from holding a protest at the massive shopping center later this week and has proposed a restraining order that would prohibit demonstrators from discussing their plans on social media. The Minneapolis chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement announced through its Facebook page on Monday morning that the Mall of America — the largest shopping mall in the United States — has filed a proposal that would not only ensure activists are barred from holding a protest on December 23, but would require organizers to publicly condemn their plans.

More:  http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/dec/21/mall-of-america-asks-court-to-curb-black-lives-mat/


Ruling Could Help Washington Redskins in Trademark Case

In a ruling that could bolster the Washington Redskins’ legal case to keep the registered trademarks to their name, a federal appeals court struck down part of a law Tuesday that let the government reject trademarks it deemed offensive or disparaging to others.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington made the ruling in a case involving an Asian-American dance-rock band that sought to register a trademark for its provocative name, the Slants. The court said the First Amendment “forbids government regulators to deny registration because they find the speech likely to offend others.”

Writing for the majority, Kimberly A. Moore, a judge on the appeals court, said: “It is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment that the government may not penalize private speech merely because it disapproves of the message it conveys.”

If the decision is upheld on appeal, a process that could take years, the financial impact is unlikely to be overwhelming.

The ruling overturned a previous decision by a three-judge panel of the court that had upheld the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s rejection of the band’s application.

More: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/23/sports/football/washington-redskins-trademark-nickname-offensive-court-ruling.html


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Despite Headlines, Crime Remains at Historic Lows

Last month a new Brennan Center analysis found that, as The Washington Post’s Radley Balko wrote, “the alleged ‘soaring’ homicide rate in large American cities was mostly hype.” New York in particular continues to be among the nation’s safest cities, as Inimai Chettiar wrote in an op-ed for AM New York and New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told his officers in a speech covered by Politico New York. “As the Brennan Center analysis shows,” wrote The New York Times in an editorial, “overall violent crime … is projected to be 1.5 percent lower in 2015 than 2014 … Misunderstanding crime rates – or worse, using them for political purposes – makes it hard to have an informed debate about which policies will be most likely to keep violence down.” A Center report from earlier this year, cited this month in The Washington Post, found that those policies do not include increased incarceration, which had only a small impact on crime rates between 1990 and 2000 and almost no impact since. Read more from The Atlantic, NBC News, and Slate.




The Case for Clemency

President Obama’s recent announcement that he would commute the sentences of 95 federal prisoners and fully pardon two others is welcome news. So is a holiday press release from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has hitherto been miserly with clemency, but will pardon nonviolent offenses committed by 16 and 17 year olds (who will continue to be automatically tried as adults, a harshness almost unique among the fifty states). But we should see these gestures for what they are: small trickles of clemency where what is demanded is a rushing, roaring pipeline scaled to the globally unprecedented size of our prison population and incarceration rate. We need industrial-scale clemency. Here is why and how.

More:  http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-case-for-clemency/


The Solution Isn’t Kinder, Gentler Prisons

What got a person locked up – no matter what - in 1790? Piracy. Period. At the birth of the republic mandatory minimum sentences were a rare and targeted thing. Attacking and robbing ships at sea got you life, no ifs, ands or buts. What gets you a mandatory minimum sentence today? Any one of 261 different crimes. It wasn’t until the 1980s, that Congress started passing mandatory minimum’s left and right, and we do mean Left and Right. Two terms of tough-on-crime Reagan and Bush Republicans added 72 new mandatory minimum statutes; Clinton’s two terms added 116. Quoting Joe Biden in 1994, Murakawa reminds us of the liberal Democrats’ approach: “The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is now for 60 new death penalties… 100,000 cops. The liberal wing of the Democratic party is for 124,000 new state prison cells.” This is the period, let’s remember, that saw black-white racial ratios among the imprisoned go from three to one to eight to one.

More:  https://www.popularresistance.org/the-solution-isnt-kinder-gentler-prisons/


FBI Files: Military questioned Pete Seeger’s Wartime Loyalty

In a security investigation triggered by a wartime letter he wrote denouncing a proposal to deport all Japanese-Americans, the Army intercepted Seeger's mail to his fiancee, scoured his school records, talked to his father, interviewed an ex-landlord and questioned his pal Woody Guthrie, according to FBI files obtained by The Associated Press. Investigators concluded that Seeger's association with known communists and his Japanese-American fiancee pointed to a risk of divided loyalty. Seeger's "Communistic sympathies, his unsatisfactory relations with landlords and his numerous Communist and otherwise undesirable friends, make him unfit for a position of trust or responsibility," according to a military intelligence report. The investigation, forwarded to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, is detailed in more than 1,700 pages from Seeger's FBI file, released by the National Archives under the Freedom of Information Act.

More:  http://bigstory.ap.org/article/dc9d717fba864fef80ba36fe224d6846/fbi-files-military-questioned-pete-seegers-wartime-loyalty


The Logic of the Police State

What is taking place and what the police and their supporters are largely reacting to is a modest push for sensible law enforcement reforms from groups as diverse as Campaign Zero, Koch Industries, the Cato Institute, The Leadership Conference, and the ACLU (my employer). Unfortunately, as the rhetoric ratchets up, many police agencies and organizations are increasingly resistant to any reforms, forgetting whom they serve and ignoring constitutional limits on what they can do. Indeed, a closer look at law enforcement arguments against commonsense reforms like independently investigating police violence, demilitarizing police forces, or ending “for-profit policing” reveals a striking disregard for concerns of just about any sort when it comes to brutality and abuse. What this “debate” has revealed, in fact, is a mainstream policing mindset ready to manufacture fear without evidence and promote the belief that American civil rights and liberties are actually an impediment to public safety. In the end, such law enforcement arguments subvert the very idea that the police are there to serve the community and should be under civilian control. And that, when you come right down to it, is the logic of the police state.

More:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176084/


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Hasty, Fearful Passage of Cybersecurity Bill Recalls Patriot Act

Congress easily passed a thinly disguised surveillance provision—the final version of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA— on Friday, shoehorned into a must-pass budget bill to prevent a government shutdown before the holidays.

Born of a climate of fear combined with a sense of urgency, the bill claims to do one thing—help companies share information with the government to heed off cyber attacks—and does entirely another—increases the U.S. government’s spying powers while letting companies with poor cyber hygiene off the hook. It’s likely to spawn unintended consequences.

Some critics felt its passage was in some ways eerily similar to when the USA Patriot Act, one of the most expansive surveillance bills in recent U.S. history, was made into law shortly after September 11, 2001.

More:  https://theintercept.com/2015/12/19/hasty-fearful-passage-of-cybersecurity-bill-recalls-patriot-act/


Here's How One Activist Convinced the FBI to Leave Him Alone

Newly released FBI documents confirm what some activist groups have argued for years: when FBI agents come knocking, the best response is to shut the door and call the press.

Leslie Pickering is no stranger to FBI harassment. Years ago, he was a spokesperson for the radical environmental group the Earth Liberation Front. By publicly making statements in support of militant tactics like property destruction, he immediately drew the attention of law enforcement. Today, he helps run an anarchist bookstore - and has found that the government is still monitoring his mail and First Amendment activity.

Pickering has been working with his attorney, Michael Kuzma, to obtain FBI documents about him. The court has ordered the FBI to process and release 30,000+ pages of his FBI file. In the first batch of those documents he has received, there is an account of the FBI's decision to "forego an interview" and not visit Pickering.

The reason?

Pickering never talked, and future visits could result in bad press for the FBI.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34108-here-s-how-one-activist-convinced-the-fbi-to-leave-him-alone


The Empire Files: 'This Ship is Sinking' Says Former Bush Official

Abby Martin interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations. Today, he is honest about the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign policy. Hear a rare insider's view of what interests are behind U.S. wars, the manipulation of intelligence, the intertwining of the military and corporate world, and why the U.S. Empire is doomed.

http://videos.telesurtv.net/en/video/482829/the-empire-files-482829


Doctrine of Discovery: In the Name of Christ


https://youtu.be/JvM4SJN76Yg

In this 43-minute documentary, you will learn about the history of the Doctrine of Discovery, its basis in Christian theology, its effects on Indigenous Peoples today, and how we might start to undo it. "Doctrine of Discovery: In the Name of Christ" features interviews with Indigenous scholars, leaders and activists from around the world, as well as Christian theologians and pastors. Made for a Mennonite audience, the documentary is also relevant for a wider Christian audience.

A film by Eclectic Reel.

Thousands March Against Killings of Indigenous Peoples in Philippine ‘Mining Capital’

Last week, a 3,000 person-strong people’s caravan, or Lakbayan, formed on the island of Mindanao to protest the criminalization and murder of Indigenous Peoples and environmental defenders in the Philippines.

Uniting Indigenous Peoples, peasants, workers, faith groups, teachers and youth, the caravan marched for three days and over a hundred kilometers from Davao del Sur to Koronadal City under the banner ‘Resist imperialist plunder! Stop Lumad killings!’

Though the numbers reported vary, the organizers of the caravan say 144 indigenous people, environmental defenders and human rights activists have been the victims of extrajudicial killings during the reign of incumbent President Benigno Aquino.

In a statement released before the Lakbayan, the groups connected these killings and rights abuses to the increasing presence of the extractive industries in Mindanao and the Philippines.



Will the Little Shell Tribe Finally Be Recognized?

The Little Shell Band has never been acknowledged under the federal tribal recognition rule, which outlines the criteria tribes must meet in order to establish a formal government-to-government relationship with the United States. But there may be hope on the horizon for unrecognized tribes.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34070-will-the-little-shell-tribe-finally-be-recognized


Save the Date: NYC, 06 Feb 2016, International Day of Solidarity with Leonard Peltier

SAVE THE DATE
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2016, 2-5 P.M.

International Day of Solidarity with Leonard Peltier


​​


Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center
1199 Auditorium
310 West 43 Street (between 8 and 9 Avenues)
New York, NY

Please join us as we work for freedom for Leonard Peltier. 

This event is a fundraiser for Leonard's legal team.

Refreshments will be served.

Stay tuned -- Speakers and performers to be announced.

For more information: nycfreepeltier@gmail.com   Phone: 646 429-2059



--

"My People's struggle to survive inspires my struggle to survive."
Leonard Peltier

Ride for Freedom for Leonard Peltier

Ride for Freedom for Leonard Peltier & All prisoners of conscience
Coleman FL to Washington DC
May 30th through June 26th

Leonard Peltier has spent nearly 40 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Prosecutors and federal agents manufactured evidence against him (including the so-called murder weapon), hid proof of his innocence, presented false testimony obtained through torturous interrogation techniques, ignored court orders and lied to the jury.  People are commonly set free due to a single  constitutional violation, but Peltier - faced with a staggering number of constitutional violations - has yet to receive equal justice.

With this being the last year of the Obama Administration, we need to make a push for Executive Clemency.  We will be cycling through five states and 29 cities.  We plan to show when we can the documentary "Incident at Oglala," have pot luck events with the community and collect signatures for an online petition along the way asking the president for clemency for Peltier. 

If you have any questions about this event, please email Jim at jim@footprintsforpeace.org.

Can you help with an overnight or an event?  Please contact Jon at jon@footprintsforpeace.org.

You can also find route & overnight  information, make a donation and sign the petition to this event at www.footprintsforpeace.org.  All donations are tax deductible.

Everyone is invited to participate in this event. As always all FootPrints for Peace events are drug and alcohol free.




Friday, December 18, 2015

President Obama Grants Commutations and Pardons

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 18, 2015

President Obama Grants Commutations and Pardons

Today, President Barack Obama granted commutations of sentence to 95 individuals and pardons to two individuals.

The President granted commutations of sentence to the following 95 individuals:
  • Donald Allen – Lynn Haven, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute cocaine base; possession of a firearm during a felony drug offense (Northern District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life plus five years’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Aug. 17, 1998)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Royal Deandre Allen – Houston, TX
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Southern District of Texas)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $17,500 fine (May 13, 1996)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016, and balance of the fine remitted.

  • Sandra Avery – Sarasota, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine base; possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base (three counts); possess with the intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine; possess with the intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine base (Middle District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jan. 3, 2007)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Jose Aviles – Chicago, IL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine (Middle District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment (Apr. 23, 1993)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on December 18, 2016.

  • George Andre Axam – Atlanta, GA
Offense:  Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (Northern District of Georgia)
Sentence:  180 months’ imprisonment; four years’ supervised release (Jun. 12, 2007)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Ray Bennett – Hazlehurst, GA
Offense:  Knowingly conspiring to distribute cocaine base (commonly known as “crack”); knowingly possessing with intent to distribute and causing to be possessed with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine base (commonly known as “crack”) (Middle District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Nov. 22, 1991)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Wendell Edward Betancourt – Washington, D.C.
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute “crack” cocaine (Northern District of West Virginia)
Sentence:  220 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Jun. 11, 2002)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Edward B. Betts – Carbondale, IL
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute in excess of 100 kilograms of marijuana (Southern District of Illinois)
Sentence:  360 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (Jul. 27, 1992)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016, and eight-year term of supervised release commuted to two years of supervised release.

  • Anthony Bosley – Spokane, WA
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base (Eastern District of Washington)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jun. 13, 2006)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Ramona Brant – Freeport, NY
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute a quantity of cocaine and cocaine base (Western District of North Carolina)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Feb. 2, 1995)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Ivory Charles Brinson – Wabasso, FL
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base (Southern District of Florida)
Sentence:  360 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (Nov. 15, 2004)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Carolyn Yvonne Butler – San Antonio, TX
Offense:  Armed bank robbery (three counts); using a firearm during a crime of violence (three counts) (Western District of Texas
Sentence:  48 years’ imprisonment; three years’ supervised release; $1,200 fine; $3,339 restitution (Jul. 30, 1992)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Arnold Charles Cabarris – Victoria, VA
Offense:  Distribution of cocaine base; conspiracy to distribute cocaine base (Eastern District of Virginia)
Sentence:  262 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Feb. 19, 1999)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Jimmy Lee Carter – Okeechobee, FL
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Southern District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jul. 21, 1993)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Sherman Dionne Chester – St. Petersburg, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; conspiracy to possess and distribute heroin; distribution of cocaine (six counts); distribution of heroin (five counts); possession with intent to distribute cocaine (Middle District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment (Feb. 11, 1994)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on December 18, 2016.

  • Herbert Lee Christopher, Jr. – Cordele, GA
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base (Middle District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Oct. 4, 1991)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Jawariel Coffie – Hollywood, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (Northern District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Oct. 5, 1993)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Michael Reese Coffman – Milton, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine (Northern District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jul. 21, 2005)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Oscar Cole, Jr. – Bessemer, AL
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute fifty (50) grams or more of a mixture and substance containing cocaine base and cocaine hydrochloride (Northern District of Alabama)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Sep. 21, 2006)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  •  Alex Contreras – Anchorage, AK
Offense:  Drug conspiracy; distribution of a controlled substance (four counts); possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance (four counts); using, carrying, possessing firearm during drug trafficking crime (three counts) (District of Alaska)
Sentence:  481 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Jul. 11, 2002); prison sentence amended to 480 months’ imprisonment (May 27, 2008)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Eddie Lee Cooks – Monroe, LA
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base; distribution of cocaine base (three counts) (Western District of Louisiana)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment (May 24, 1994)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on December 18, 2016.

  • Lelus Crawford – St. Louis, MO
Offense:  Distribution of cocaine base (“crack”) (two counts); possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (“crack”) (Eastern District of Missouri)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jun. 15, 2007)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Dewayne Crompton – Bakersfield, CA
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Western District of Wisconsin)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment (May 28, 1993)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on December 18, 2016.

  • Charles Frederick Cundiff – Altoona, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana; attempt to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana (Northern District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment (Jan. 8, 1992)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on December 18, 2016.

  • Thomas Daniels – Philadelphia, PA
Offense:  Distribution of cocaine; distribution of cocaine base ("crack cocaine") (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment (Jun. 26, 1996)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on December 18, 2016.

  • Joe Nathan Darby – Salters, SC
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute and distribution of five grams or more of crack cocaine (two counts); possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 50 grams or more of crack cocaine (District of South Carolina)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (May 25, 2006)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Alphonso Davis – Ridgeway, SC
Offense:  Conspiracy to violate narcotic laws (crack) (Western District of North Carolina)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Feb. 12, 1996)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • William Ervin Dekle – Lake City, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to import 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana; importation of 100 kilograms of marijuana (four counts); possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms of marijuana (four counts) (Northern District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; four years’ special parole (Jun. 7, 1991)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Dianne Demar  -- St. Petersburg, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute in excess of 100 grams of methamphetamine; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine (two counts); unlawful manufacturing of methamphetamine (two counts); possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime (Northern District of Georgia)
Sentence:  Life plus five years’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Dec. 13, 1991)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Eric T. Downs – Mansfield, OH
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Northern District of Ohio)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment (July 18, 1996)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on December 18, 2016.

  • Ernest R. Eads – Seneca, MO
Offense:         1. Conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (Western District of Missouri
                        2. Felon in possession of firearms (Western District of Missouri)
Sentence:        1. Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Mar. 7, 1997)
                        2. 12 months’ imprisonment (consecutive) (Mar. 7, 1997)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentences commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Reginald Gerard Ennis – Mobile, AL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine (Southern District of Alabama)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Apr. 22, 2004)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Jimmy Lee Fields – Dundee, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base (Middle District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment (Jan. 16, 1996)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on December 18, 2016.

  • Pedro Figueroa – Philadelphia, PA
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute controlled substance; distribution of controlled substance, aiding and abetting (three counts); possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute, aiding and abetting (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release; $1,000 fine (Jul. 15, 2003)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Donald Lee Gill – Cincinnati, OH
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine; possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and aiding and abetting; carrying firearm during a drug trafficking crime (Eastern District of Kentucky)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment (Aug. 20, 1997)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on December 18, 2016.

  • Calvin C. Gillings – Chicago, IL
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, “crack”; possession with intent to distribute cocaine (Southern District of Iowa)
Sentence:  360 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (Jul. 18, 1997)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Glenn D. Gold – Clarksville, TN
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base; use of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime; felon in possession of a firearm (Middle District of Tennessee)
Sentence:  Life plus 60 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Apr. 23, 1997)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Alberto Gonzalez – Philadelphia, PA
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine; distribution of 1,003 grams of cocaine (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
Sentence:  262 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (May 19, 2003)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Willie James Griffin, Jr. – Pensacola, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute cocaine (Northern District of Florida)
Sentence:  252 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $1,000 fine (Dec. 2, 1999); prison sentence amended to 240 months’ imprisonment (Apr. 14, 2008)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016 and balance of the fine remitted.

  • Doyle Grimes, Jr. – Miami, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute a detectable amount of cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base (Middle District of Florida)
Sentence:  292 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Apr. 8, 2003); prison sentence amended to 240 months’ imprisonment (Dec. 5, 2014)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Kenneth Hamlin, Jr. – Pittsburgh, PA
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of in excess of 50 grams of cocaine base, in excess of 100 grams of heroin, and a quantity of marijuana; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of in excess of 100 grams of heroin
(Western District of Pennsylvania)
Sentence:  360 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Mar. 4, 1999)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Glenn A. Harris – Elizabeth City, NC
Offense:  Distribution of more than five grams of cocaine base (crack) (Eastern District North Carolina)
Sentence:  188 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release; $2,100 restitution (Aug. 8, 2005)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016, and balance of the restitution obligation remitted.

  • Lisa Harris – Arcadia, FL
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute fifty grams or more of cocaine base, crack cocaine; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base, crack cocaine (Middle District of Florida)
Sentence:  235 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Nov. 30, 2005)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Antorrian Adrionne Hawkins – Lilburn, GA
Offense:  Felon in possession of a firearm; possession with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine base; possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime (Eastern District of Michigan)
Sentence:  300 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Apr. 12, 2005)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Eugene L. Haywood – Peoria, IL
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base (crack); possession of cocaine base (crack) (Central District of Illinois)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jul. 12, 2002)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Jerome A. Jackson – Washington, DC
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base: unlawful distribution of cocaine base (two counts) (District of Columbia)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Feb. 18, 1994)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016. 

  • Gloria Louise James – Fort Madison, IA
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (Southern District of Iowa)
Sentence:  188 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Feb. 9, 2004)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Angie Jenkins – Klamath Falls, OR
Offense:  Conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine; manufacture of methamphetamine; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine (District of Oregon)
Sentence:  360 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Sep. 22, 1998); prison sentence amended to 324 months’ imprisonment (Jan. 29, 2015)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Allen Johnson – Live Oak, FL
Offense:  Distribution of five grams or more of cocaine base (Middle District of Florida)
Sentence:  188 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Oct. 3, 2003)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Javon Tyrone Johnson – Saginaw, MI
Offense:  Distribution of 50 grams or more of cocaine base (Eastern District of Michigan)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Sep. 30, 2004)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Mario Alonzo Johnson – Stockton, CA
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine (Eastern District of California)
Sentence:  288 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Jan. 20, 1999)
 Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence to expire on April 16, 2016.   

  • Tommy Lynn Johnson – Athens, TX
Offense:  Conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine; conspiracy to possess a listed chemical knowing it will be used to manufacture a controlled substance; possession of a listed chemical with intent to manufacture a controlled substance (two counts); possession and distribution of a listed chemical with intent to manufacture a controlled substance (two counts); use, carrying and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime (two counts); possession of an unregistered firearm (Eastern District of Texas)
Sentence:  511 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Jul. 21, 2003); prison sentence amended to 481 months’ imprisonment (Oct. 6, 2015)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Sharanda Purlette Jones – Terrell, TX
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base (Northern District of Texas)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Nov. 10, 1999)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Ryan O’Neil Lansdowne – Haymarket, VA
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base (Eastern District of Virginia)
Sentence:  292 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Oct. 20, 2000); prison sentence amended to 262 months’ imprisonment (Apr. 28, 2009)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Chad Robert Latham – Tacoma, WA
Offense:  Conspiracy to manufacture marijuana; manufacturing marijuana (Western District of Washington)
Sentence:  180 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Jan. 18, 2006)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Jimmy Ewell Lee – Bonifay, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine (actual) and more than 500 grams of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine (Northern District of Florida)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (May 4, 2005)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Carlos Lopez – Lawrence, MA
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base; distribution of cocaine base (four counts); possess and carry a firearm during a drug crime; possession of firearm by a prohibited person; possession of firearm with an obliterated serial number (District of New Hampshire)
Sentence:  300 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (May 14, 2003)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  •  Kevin McDonald – Lawrenceville, NJ
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base “crack” (Eastern District of Virginia)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment (Oct. 17, 2005)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on December 18, 2016.

  • Terry Dennard McNeair – Lexington, NC
Offense:  Possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (crack) (Middle District of North Carolina)
Sentence:  360 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Nov. 18, 1996)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Michael McRae – Wadesboro, NC
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (Western District of North Carolina)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (May 22, 2006)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Juan Fernando Mendoza-Cardenas – Houston, TX
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana (Northern District of Georgia)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jan. 28, 2004)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Billy R. Mercer, Jr. – Slapout, AL
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; use/carry firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime (Middle District of Alabama)
Sentence:  292 months’ imprisonment; 72 months’ supervised release (May 24, 2006)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Alton D. Mills – Chicago, IL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine base and cocaine and conspiracy to use communication facilities in the commission of drug trafficking offenses; use of communication facility to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (two counts); possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Northern District of Illinois)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; (July 14, 1994)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on December 18, 2016.

  • Alphonso Ravon Morrison – Lincolnton, NC
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute, a quantity of cocaine and cocaine base (Western District of North Carolina)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (May 7, 2001)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Matthew Murphy, III – Moreno Valley, CA
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute in excess of five kilograms of cocaine (Western District of Pennsylvania)
Sentence:  360 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Nov. 13, 1997)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Darnell Jamar Nash – Ardmore, OK
Offense:  Drug conspiracy (Eastern District of Oklahoma)
Sentence:  264 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Mar. 18, 2004)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016, and 10-year term of supervised release commuted to three years of supervised release.

  • Eric L. Orington – Danville, IL
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of (crack) cocaine (Central District of Illinois)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $2,000 fine (Sep. 1, 1995)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Lynette Owens – Lehigh Acres, FL
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute five or more grams of cocaine base, “crack cocaine” (Middle District of Florida)
Sentence:  188 months’ imprisonment; four years’ supervised release (Jan. 22, 2007)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • David Padilla – Philadelphia, PA
Offense:  Conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute cocaine; carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking crime (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment plus 60 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Nov. 18, 1997)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • LaShawn D. Patton – Cahokia, IL
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute cocaine; felon in possession of firearm; possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime (Southern District of Illinois)
Sentence:  180 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (Feb. 24, 2006)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016, and eight-year term of supervised release commuted to four years of supervised release.

  • Donald Lamont Postell – Miami, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine (Western District of North Carolina)
Sentence:  600 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $20,000 fine (Feb. 1, 1989)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016, and balance of the fine remitted.

  • Lalanda Price – Wellington, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base (Northern District of Florida)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Nov. 29, 2004)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Lamar Roberson – Savannah, GA
Offense:  Conspiracy; distribution of cocaine (two counts) (Southern District of Georgia)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Dec. 6, 1991)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Kenneth Cordell Robinson – Houston, TX
Offense:  Distribution of cocaine base (Southern District of Texas)
Sentence:  262 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release; $5,000 fine (Apr. 21, 2000)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Amador Rodriguez – Chicago, IL
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine (Northern District of Illinois)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; $25,000 fine (Apr. 24, 1991)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on December 18, 2016.

  • Felix Roman, Jr. – Reading, PA
Offense:  Possession of five grams or more of cocaine base “crack” with the intent to distribute; possession of marijuana with intent to distribute (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
Sentence:  262 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Apr. 15, 2003)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.       

  •  Angel Sanchez – Atlantic Beach, FL
Offense:  Possession with intent to deliver five or more grams of cocaine (crack); possession of a firearm during or in relation to a drug trafficking crime; felon in possession of a firearm (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release; $1,000 fine (Mar. 13, 2006)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016, and balance of the fine remitted.

  • Timothy Bernard Sanchious – Richmond, VA
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, to wit: “crack” (Eastern District of Virginia)
Sentence:  204 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Dec. 16, 2004)       
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Michael Santoyo – Saginaw, MI
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine (three counts) (Eastern District of Michigan)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 20 years’ supervised release; $80,000 fine (May 24, 1993)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Wilbert L. Shoemaker – Tallulah, LA
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base and marijuana (Western District of Louisiana)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Feb. 2, 2004)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Marcus Stovall – Etowah, TN
Offense:  Possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute (Eastern District of Tennessee)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Oct. 21, 2002)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Daron Benjamin Swygert – Gaston, SC
Offense:  Possessing with intent to distribute cocaine base (District of South Carolina)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Apr. 13, 2001)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Billie Marie Taylor – Houston, TX
Offense:  Did knowingly and willfully conspire, combine, confederate and agree together, with each other, and with other persons, to manufacture methamphetamine; did knowingly and intentionally possess a listed chemical, namely ephedrine, with intent to manufacture methamphetamine; did knowingly use and carry a firearm, namely, a 12 gauge Harrington and Richardson, Inc. shotgun, serial number AX492667, during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime for which the defendant may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, namely, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine; did knowingly possess a firearm, namely, a 12 gauge Harrington and Richardson, Inc. shotgun, serial number AX492667, with a barrel length of less than 18 inches and a weapon made from a shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches, and such firearm was not registered to the defendant in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (Eastern District of Texas)
Sentence:  412 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Feb. 28, 1992); prison sentence amended to 355 months’ imprisonment (Jul. 15, 2015)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.
  • Eric Desmond Thomas – Houston, TX
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Southern District of Texas)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $20,000 fine (Sep. 26, 1996)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016, and balance of the fine remitted.

  • Raymond Allen Thomas – Fairbanks, AK
Offense:  Possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute (District of Alaska)
Sentence:  265 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (Feb. 7, 2005); prison sentence amended to 216 months’ imprisonment (Mar. 4, 2015)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Bruce Lamar Thompson – Dalton, GA
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute in excess of 500 grams of methamphetamine after sustaining a prior felony drug conviction (Northern District of Georgia)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jul. 30, 2004)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Keith Demond Thompson – Eastpointe, MI
Offense:  Distribution of five grams of more of cocaine base (two counts) (Eastern District of Michigan)
Sentence:  188 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (May 24, 2006)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Otis Lee Thompson, Jr. – Houston, TX
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; possession with intent to distribute codeine (Southern District of Texas)
Sentence:  195 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (Dec. 6, 2005); prison sentence amended to 180 months’ imprisonment (May 20, 2008)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Charles Lee Torian – South Boston, VA
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base; possess with intent to distribute more than five grams of cocaine base (two counts); possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base (Western District of Virginia)
Sentence:  300 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Apr. 19, 2002)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Maurice Junior Turpin – Lynchburg, VA
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base (Western District of Virginia)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $500.00 fine (Jul. 19, 2007)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Tommie Sand Tyree – Birmingham, AL
Offense:  Distribution of 50 grams or more of “crack” cocaine (Northern District of Alabama)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 96 months’ supervised release (Feb. 7, 2007)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Alfonzo Samuel Wallace – Lake Worth, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base; possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute, distribution and manufacturing of cocaine base (three counts); possession of cocaine (Southern District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Oct. 23, 1997)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • John Thomas Watters – Midlothian, TX
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substance (two counts); maintaining drug involved premises; felon in possession of firearms (Northern District of Oklahoma)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (May 26, 2006) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Monica Ann White – Rock Island, IL
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base (“crack”); possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (“crack”); distribute cocaine base (“crack”) (Southern District of Iowa)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Nov. 17, 1998)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

  • Shelton L. Williams – Galveston, TX
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine; possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine (Southern District of Texas)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (May 1, 1997)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.

The President granted pardons to the following two individuals:
  • Jon Dylan Girard – Centerville, OH
Offense:  Making counterfeit obligations (Southern District of Ohio)
Sentence:  Three years' probation, with the special condition of six months' home confinement (Nov. 7, 2002).

  • Melody Eileen Homa, fka Melody Eileen Childress – New Kent, VA
Offense:  Aiding and abetting bank fraud (Eastern District of Virginia)
Sentence:  Thirty days’ home detention; three years’ supervised release conditioned on performance of 200 hours of community service (Dec. 16, 1991).
15-1564
Updated December 18, 2015