Three criminal justice organizations are campaigning for more clemency initiatives.
“The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), backed by the Foundation for Criminal Justice (FCJ), have launched the State Clemency Project and are deploying core staff and infrastructure to support clemency initiatives focusing on state inmates,” according to an August NACDL press release.
“Political leaders from across the political spectrum now recognize that the criminal justice system has become a costly misuse of taxpayer resources,” it was reported.
One of the targeted groups of interest is the large number of inmates serving long sentences for crimes committed when they were relatively young.
In the press release, “The State Clemency Project also recognizes that individuals leaving prison and re-entering society need support, and that state budgets have finite resources. NACDL and FAMM stand ready to augment existing re-entry programs in states. The project will seek private support and engage local partners to develop a support infrastructure for released inmates.
“Science now recognizes that brain development, especially with respect to judgment and impulse control, continues until the age of 25,” the release noted
“Project staff will work with state agencies to devise the most efficient way to connect applicants to volunteers, provide essential applicant information and submit well-crafted petitions,” the release said.
The State Clemency Project has a central case management system that provides information on volunteer lawyers. The staff uses applicant’s information from this system and matches the client with a lawyer, it was noted.
According to NACDL, the organization has member attorneys in every U.S. state and territory, as well as affiliate associations in every state, and it can draw from these experienced criminal practitioners with knowledge of each participating state to serve as advisers for volunteers.
“Additionally, NACDL and FAMM can leverage their relationships throughout the legal community built over a combined 85 years to draw volunteers, including small and large firms, school-based clinics, and other advocacy groups,” the release said.
The release also says the State Clemency Project staff will develop a volunteer training regimen targeted at the needs and goals of each state.
The training prepares the volunteers to hit the ground running on cases and is augmented with online reference materials and follow-up webinars led by area expert, it was reported.
“Volunteers will be supported throughout the process by experienced counsel. The State Clemency Project will assume the core responsibility of tracking applicants, volunteers, and case progression. Using the case management system and communication with volunteers and their firms, project staff can see who is working on each case and where in the process that case is,” the release said.
“This gives project staff the ability to establish and enforce deadlines to ensure timely completion of the case,” the release noted.
Information about the initiative is available online at stateclemency.org. The State Clemency Project is prepared to help governors across the country to fulfill their clemency goals.