#FreeHer Campaign Wants Clemency For 100 Women In Biden's First 100 Days
By Cheryl Corley | NPR Sunday, March 14, 2021
More than 200,000 women and girls are incarcerated in this country — 10,000 of them in federal prisons — and Danielle Metz used to be one of them.
Metz was married to an alleged drug kingpin and had two small children, 3 and 7 years old, when she was sentenced in 1993 for drug conspiracy and money laundering convictions. She had never been in legal trouble before, "not even a traffic ticket," she says. "I was sentenced to three life sentences and when I came in the system they didn't have parole or anything like that anymore. So I was just doing time day for day. The process was really hard. My family didn't know what to do in the beginning. I had exhausted my appeals. Clemency was my only hope."
Nothing came of Metz's first clemency petition, however things started to change when prosecutors wrote a letter to the Office of the Pardon Attorney on her behalf. In August 2016, President Barack Obama commuted her sentence.
"That was after 23 years and 8 months of serving," Metz says.
The U.S. Constitution gives the president power to grant clemency for a person who committed a federal crime. Typically that's either a commutation, which reduces a person's sentence, or a pardon, which absolves them of a crime. Metz works now with the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. As part of a clemency campaign, the group is asking President Biden to grant clemency to 100 women during his first 100 days in office.
The Council's founder and executive director Andrea James says draconian penalties and mandatory minimum sentences that escalated the country's "war on drugs" including the 1994 crime bill and the government's increased use of drug conspiracy charges swept up too many people who had marginal if any roles in drug trafficking.
"When I was in federal prison, there were women that were there for conspiracy who never touched a drug, they didn't see a drug," says James, who was incarcerated for two years on a wire fraud conviction. "If you took conspiracy out of the equation, you could not justify these women sitting in prison for 10, 15, 20, 25 years and life without parole sentences and it's just absolutely heartbreaking." Read more HERE