Biden Commutes Sentences For 75 Nonviolent Drug Offenders

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden announced Tuesday his first slew of pardons and commutations since taking office.

The list, announced during Second Chance Month, includes 75 non-violent drug offenders and three other individuals “who have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation,” the president said in a statement.

The three individuals receiving pardons are 86-year-old Abraham W. Bolden, Sr., 51-year-old Betty Jo Bogans and 52-year-old Dexter Eugene Jackson.

Bolden, according to the president’s clemency recipient list, was a former Secret Service agent and the first African American to serve on a presidential detail. He was charged “with offenses related to attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file” in 1964.

“His first trial resulted in a hung jury, and following his conviction at a second trial, even though key witnesses against him admitted to lying at the prosecutor’s request, Mr. Bolden was denied a new trial and ultimately served several years in federal custody. He has steadfastly maintained his innocence, arguing that he was targeted for prosecution in retaliation for exposing unprofessional and racist behavior within the U.S. Secret Service,” the White House wrote.

Bogans was convicted of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine in 1998. She was caught, according to the White House, while trying to transport drugs for her boyfriend and another individual. The administration cited Bogans’ history as a single mother with no prior record as one reason for the pardon.

Jackson, the third person to receive a pardon, was convicted of using his business to help distribute marijuana in 2002.

Mr. Jackson was not personally involved in trafficking marijuana, but allowed marijuana distributors to use his pool hall to facilitate drug transactions.  He accepted full responsibility for his actions at the time he was charged, and pled guilty,” the White House noted, continuing on to highlight the work Jackson has done within the community since his release.

Biden also announced the commutation of 75 non-violent drug offenders. Many were charged prior to the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice bill intended in part to help cut long federal sentences for non-violent offenses, the president noted. (RELATED: Justice Department Nominee Lisa Monaco Prosecuted Black Man Sentenced To 27 Years In Prison For Selling $20 Worth Of Drugs)

“America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation,” Biden said in a statement. “Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values that enable safer and stronger communities. During Second Chance Month, I am using my authority under the Constitution to uphold those values by pardoning and commuting the sentences of fellow Americans.”

In addition to his pardons and commutations announcement, Biden announced Tuesday “new steps” intended to help those re-entering society after being incarcerated.

“These actions include: a new collaboration between the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Labor to provide job training; new grants for workforce development programs; greater opportunities to serve in federal government; expanded access to capital for people with convictions trying to start a small business; improved reentry services for veterans; and more support for health care, housing, and educational opportunities,” the president said.