- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A group representing federal prosecutors said Tuesday that President Obama violated his own rules last week when he granted clemency to 91 convicted drug dealers who were released from prison early.

Reflecting deep divisions in the Justice Department, the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys called on the White House and leaders at Justice to release all information involved in the decisions to release the drug dealers, saying the public has a right to know whether a program to free criminals “is prudent, much less necessary.”

“Americans need more information than they are getting in order to decide whether now is the time to reverse the strong sentencing policies that, for the last generation, have helped slash crime rates and keep us all safer,” the group said in a statement.

Last week, Mr. Obama commuted the sentences of 95 people and pardoned two others. Nearly all of the offenders were convicted of drug-related offenses — mostly for charges related to possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. It brought to 184 the total number of commutations by Mr. Obama, the most by any president since Lyndon B. Johnson.

Steven H. Cook, president of the prosecutors’ group, said the administration has committed to granting

clemency only if six very specific criteria were met, including that the defendant was a “non-violent, low-level offender,” did not have a significant criminal history, and had no history of violence.

“Sadly, that has not been the case,” Mr. Cook said. “In fact, many of the drug traffickers being released had armed themselves with firearms (one with 40 firearms); many were leaders or supervisors in their crimes (one was the lead defendant in a 69-day trial); many had multiple prior felony convictions (one had 8 prior felony drug trafficking convictions); and the vast majority were involved in conspiracies to distribute large quantities of dangerous drugs, often hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of methamphetamine or cocaine.”

The clemency releases are in addition to about 46,000 drug traffickers who are being released through retroactively shorter sentences through a push by the White House and the Justice Department with the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

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