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Biden to pardon certain marijuana offenses, commute sentences of 11 nonviolent drug offenders

Updated: Dec 25, 2023

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President Biden will commute the sentences of 11 individuals serving jail sentences for nonviolent drug offenses Friday, and he will sign a proclamation to pardon certain marijuana offenses.

The proclamation will pardon offenses for marijuana use and possession on certain federal lands. Biden in October 2022 announced pardons for thousands of individuals who had been convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law.

“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,” Biden said in a statement. “That’s why I continue to urge Governors to do the same with regard to state offenses and applaud those who have since taken action.”

In addition, Biden intends to commute the sentences of 11 nonviolent offenders in his latest use of clemency power. Each of the individuals are serving what the White House called disproportionately long sentences for nonviolent drug offenses and would have been eligible for reduced sentences had they been charged today.

The individuals who had their sentences commuted were Felipe Arriaga of Washington, Earlie Deacon Barber of Alabama, James Michael Barber of North Carolina, Anthony Ewing of Georgia, Quittman Andre Goodley of Texas, Deondre Cordell Higgins of Missouri, Leroy Lymons of Florida, Angel Rosario of Pennsylvania, Esaias J. Tucker of Florida, Darryl Allen Winkfield of Georgia and Kenneth Winkler of Indiana.

The White House said Biden supports efforts to eliminate sentencing disparities between crack cocaine offenses and powder cocaine offenses.

“America was founded on the principle of equal justice under law,” Biden said in a statement. “Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect this core value that makes our communities safer and stronger.”

In addition to his marijuana pardons, Biden in April 2022 pardoned three people convicted of nonviolent crimes and commuted the sentences of 75 individuals convicted of nonviolent drug crimes in his first use of clemency powers since taking office.

At the end of 2022, Biden pardoned six more individuals who served sentences for drug or alcohol-related crimes, as well as a woman who had been convicted of second-degree murder while she was in an abusive relationship.

“I have exercised my clemency power more than any recent predecessor has at this point in their presidency,” Biden said in a statement Friday. “And while today’s announcement marks important progress, my Administration will continue to review clemency petitions and deliver reforms that advance equal justice, address racial disparities, strengthen public safety, and enhance the wellbeing of all Americans.”


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