A quartet of current NFL players published an editorial in The New York Times today responding to President Trump’s request that they provide the names of people they believe have been treated unfairly by the justice system.
The President said in an interview earlier in the month that if he agrees they’ve been treated unfairly, he will pardon them.
Malcolm Jenkins, Anquan Boldin, Doug Baldwin and Benjamin Watson’s piece in the Times argues that the President should use his power of pardon to “make a real dent in the federal prison population.” The players then go on to cite the fact that 13.5 percent of the approximately 79,000 people locked up in federal penitentiary for drug offenses are serving sentences of 20 years or more. The players use the example of Alice Johnson, a 63-year-old grandmother that the President pardoned earlier this month to illustrate their point.
“There is also a systemic problem in federal prison involving the elderly, who by next year will make up 28 percent of the federal prison population. Releasing these prisoners would pose little to no risk to society. And yet from 2013 to 2017, the Bureau of Prisons approved only 6 percent of roughly 5,400 “compassionate release” applications. About half of those applications were for people who had been convicted of nonviolent fraud or drug offenses. Of those denied release, 266 died in custody.
President Trump could order the release of any drug offender over the age of 60 whose conviction is not recent. That would be the morally right thing to do.”
The players also proposed some policy changes that the President and Attorney General could make, like eliminating life sentences without parole for people with nonviolent offenses. There is no response from the President as of this writing.