Digital Access

Digital Access
Access kcchronicle.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Want to make sure you receive the latest local news? We’ve got you covered! Get the best in local news, sports, community events, with focus on what’s coming up for the weekend. Weekly mail subscription offers

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, prep sports, weather, and more. Text alerts are a free service from Kane County Chronicle, but text rates may apply.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
Sign up for free email alerts. We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox.
Opinion

Another View: Insufficient mercy

Last week, President Barack Obama granted clemency to eight people serving long sentences on crack-cocaine convictions.

One person on Obama’s list, Clarence Aaron, was serving three life sentences for participating in a drug deal. Another, Stephanie George, was handed a life sentence for stashing her boyfriend’s drugs. These are just a couple of the nearly 9,000 people convicted under harsh anti-crack policies that Congress established in 1986 and then revised in 2010. By that point, the old standards were widely considered unfair, as well as needlessly expensive.

“Because of a disparity in the law that is now recognized as unjust,” Obama said last week, “they remain in prison, separated from their families and their communities, at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.”

Congress and the president agree that the old rules were unwise, yet many others sitting in prison deserve a chance to show that their sentences did not fit their crimes. The fairest and most comprehensive way to give them that chance would come from Congress, which could impose a broad solution and enlist federal judges to apply it. Lawmakers are considering various ways to ease sentences – and the strain on the prison system – by applying new sentencing standards to old convictions. A bill sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, would require inmates seeking relaxed punishments to apply to federal judges, who would have leeway to reduce sentences or leave them in place, if appropriate.

But the president has the unrestricted authority to grant clemency to federal convicts. Thousands of people were sentenced under an unjust system the president has condemned. Why should he stop with granting clemency to only eight of them? If it makes sense for lawmakers to establish a new pathway for relief, it makes sense for the executive branch to apply the same logic with the powers and resources it already has.

Loading more