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Baylor Professor Urges President To Make Principled Commutations

Feb. 11, 2010

It's been a busy year for Mark Osler, who won the afore-mentioned case that allowed judges to reject mandatory 100:1 ratios in crack and powder cocaine that had previously been federally established. Asked by a colleague at Ohio State what he was going to do next, Osler turned his attention to the president's use of the commutation.

Osler says that only 2 presidents in recent history have used the pardoning power in a principled way--Kennedy, who sought out people whose sentences would have been changed under new rules, and Reagan, who used the pardon very sparingly. He believes there are many people in prison right now whose heavy-handed sentences are worthy of commuting, particularly in cases where sentencing guidelines have changed since they had their day in court.

To highlight this issue, Osler and a coalition that includes the ACLU are requesting a commutation for Hamedah Hassan, currently serving her 16th year in prison of a 27 year sentence.

They're bringing their request to the president heading into President's Day weekend. It's symbolic, and it's important for the individual in prison. But Hassan's case is indicative of a larger issue that he believes the administration is receptive to.

You can find a link to a website that tells Hamedah Hassan's story at our website, kwbu.org. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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