WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) issued the following statement on President Biden’s decision to issue clemency and pardons for 78 individuals, including former Secret Service agent:
“President Biden’s action today is historic and will help set these individuals, their families, and communities on a pathway to healing. These actions give hope to the over 18,000 individuals with federal clemency applications pending. I am thrilled that the President is heeding our calls for bold action.
“America’s mass incarceration crisis has ravaged Black and brown communities, destabilized families, and exacerbated generational trauma for far too long. That’s why I have consistently called on President Biden to use his clemency authority to reduce the federal prison population, reunite folks with their loved ones, and begin to address this crisis head on.
“The power of clemency and redemption are profound, which is why I applaud President Biden’s actions and encourage him to continue to build on this progress and grant clemency to reunite families and further address the hurt and harm inflicted by the legal system on our most vulnerable communities. With the backlog of federal clemency applications growing, I continue to advocate for passage of my FIX Clemency Act (HR 6234), which would transform our unfair federal clemency process and help end America’s shameful era of mass incarceration. Tens of thousands of lives hang in the balance, and we must act without delay.”
In December, Rep. Pressley, along with Representatives Cori Bush (MO-01), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) and grassroots advocates, unveiled the Fair and Independent Experts in Clemency (FIX Clemency) Act, historic legislation to transform our nation’s broken clemency system and address the growing mass incarceration crisis.
Rep. Pressley has been a leading voice in Congress calling for President Biden to use his clemency authority to address mass incarceration and begin to heal the hurt and harm of our broken criminal legal system.
Earlier this year, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Bush headlined a rally with the National Council For Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls at which they urged President Biden to grant clemency to 100 women in his first 100 days.
Under the framework of the People’s Justice Guarantee, Rep. Pressley has also introduced legislation to end the federal death penalty, dismantle mass incarceration for the public health, and disrupt the school-to-confinement pathway.
Rep. Pressley has also urged President Biden to use his authority to halt federal executions and commute the sentences of those on death row, and has urged the Trump Administration and governors to adopt guidelines for decarceration to reduce the prison population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In September, Rep. Pressley joined Reps. Bush, Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), David Trone (MD-06) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and over 20 of their colleagues in sending a letter to the Biden Administration urging the President to commute the sentences of the more than 4,000 people who were released on home confinement in 2020 as part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Editor’s Note: Former Black Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden was a notable among those receiving pardons from President Biden.