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Biden commutes sentences of 11 Black prisoners convicted of drug crimes, will pardon thousands more


Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden is emptying Washington, DC’s prisons for the holidays. The president commuted the sentences of 11 Black people convicted of drug offenses. He plans to pardon thousands more convicted of simple possession of marijuana.

The pardons will cover thousands of Black people who were convicted of simple marijuana possession on federal land or in Washington, DC.

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Biden is commuting the sentence of Earlie Deacon Barber who was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute more than 5 kilos of cocaine and cocaine base.

The White House announced the clemencies on Friday morning. The list includes Black men who were sentenced to life “or serving disproportionately long sentences for non-violent drug offenses,” Biden said in his statement.

“All of them would have been eligible to receive significantly lower sentences if they were charged with the same offense today,” he added.

“Second, following my pardon of prior federal and D.C. offenses of simple possession of marijuana, I am issuing a Proclamation that will pardon additional offenses of simple possession and use of marijuana under federal and D.C. law.

“Criminal records for marijuana use and possession have imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities.

“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.

“Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely due to the use or possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either.”

The news comes as polls show Black voters are unhappy with Biden.

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