FAMM Member, Others, Receive Presidential Commutations
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama granted clemency today to 22
federal prisoners, including a member of Families Against Mandatory
“We are thrilled that President Obama is making good on his promise
to use the powers granted him by the Constitution to provide relief for
federal prisoners serving excessively long mandatory minimum sentences,”
said Julie Stewart, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory
Minimums. “We hope and expect to see more commutations granted through
the end of his term.”
The following FAMM member received clemency:
- Donel Marcus Clark
has served over two decades of a 30-year prison sentence for
participating in a nonviolent drug conspiracy, his first and only
offense, during a time when his family was facing financial hardship.
Desperate for money, Donel became involved in low level role in a
friend’s crack conspiracy, and was eventually convicted and sentenced to
35 years (later reduced to 30) in prison—even the Assistant U.S.
Attorney who prosecuted Donel believed his sentence was too harsh.
During his time in prison, Donel has maintained a perfect disciplinary
record, earned outstanding work reviews, taken numerous classes, and
worked to maintain strong relationships with his children.
since the beginning of his incarceration over 20 years ago,” said
Brittany K. Byrd, Clark’s attorney. “He is overwhelmed with joy at the
news and looks forward to being reunited with his sons! We are
extremely grateful to President Obama and hope that he continues to
grant commutations to others like Donel who are serving draconian
sentences for nonviolent drug crimes.”
These commutations follow a 2014 announcement by then-Deputy Attorney
General James Cole that the Obama administration wanted to grant
commutations to federal prisoners serving sentences that would, were
they handed down today, be significantly less onerous.
FAMM has advocated clemency for federal prisoners serving excessively
long mandatory minimums since its founding in 1991. And yet, clemency
is simply a means of triage. No number of commutations is an adequate
substitute for reforming federal mandatory minimum laws.
“I commend the president,” Stewart said, “but I’d also like to stress
that the problem his actions are trying to address can’t be solved by
the White House or the Department of Justice. Congress created these
mandatory minimums, and Congress needs to reform them.”