My Sunday sermon and praise.
This Washington Post article is one of the most beautiful and yet heartbreaking stories you will ever read. There are many comments about inmates being released from prison this year. Some championing Obama’s insight; some violent and pessimistic. The worries over how this will impact our neighborhoods and communities were the most thought provoking and still unanswered. We can only hope that the damage done by mass incarceration will be addressed with the fervor and clarity unlike how we have muddled our race-politics. We can only hope.
The recently released federal prisoner sat down at his sister’s dining room table. He pulled out a legal pad and began the letter he had been turning over in his mind for several months: “Dear Mr. President, I am writing you today with the utmost gratitude to personally thank you for granting my petition for clemency on March 31, 2015. Your actions have given me a second chance to start living life normally again and mere words can’t express how truly grateful I am for your making this moment possible. The Bible says, ‘To whom much is given, much is required,’ and I vow to make the most of this unique opportunity that I’ve been given.” UNWINDING THE DRUG WAR: This story is the fifth in a continuing series about the legacy of the war on drugs and efforts to reduce the nation’s prison population. Click to read Part I: The painful price of aging in prison Click to read Part II: Against his better judgment Click to read Part III: From a first arrest to a life sentence Click to read Part IV: Unlikely allies push for sentencing reform Click to read Part VI: In Calif., the unintended effects of leniency He went back and crossed out the words, “second chance,” replacing them with “unique opportunity.” He frowned. The change made the letter look sloppy. He tore out the page and started again. After writing the lines in neat print, he paused and took off his reading glasses.
A 51-year-old who has spent more than two decades behind bars, Clark is one of 22 nonviolent drug offenders whom Obama granted clemency in March in an effort to shorten the harsh mandatory minimum sentences imposed on thousands of mostly African American men during the war on drugs in the 1980s and 1990s.
Those ex-convicts, along with 46 others given commutations in July, are making their way from federal prison back into neighborhoods around the country. Separately, 6,000 federal prisoners will be released at the end of the month after retroactive changes in sentencing guidelines.
After receiving Obama’s clemency letter six months ago in the Seagoville federal prison, just southeast of here, Clark was surrounded by guards and inmates who shook his hand and congratulated him.