Law/Justice

This is not the major criminal justice reform Biden promised

By Michael Arceneaux The Week

More than a year after taking office, President Biden has finally decided to use his executive powers to begin fulfilling a campaign promise: On Tuesday, he pardoned three people and commuted the sentences of 75 nonviolent drug offenders.

“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.” His administration also announced new steps to help former prisoners reintegrate into society, including $145 million for job training and re-entry programs.

That’s all good news. But why did it take so long?

Among those pardoned is Abraham Bolden Sr., the first Black Secret Service agent on a presidential detail. In 1964, Bolden, who served under President John F. Kennedy, faced federal bribery charges for allegedly attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file. Bolden has long maintained his innocence, even writing a book in which he argued he was targeted for speaking out against racism within the Secret Service. He said in an interview published Tuesday that he believed Biden “sympathized” with him and “saw a need to honor due process in my case.”

There is a sense of relief for people like Bolden, and I know stories like his will make for nice news segments in the coming weeks and months. I will not discount how important it is for men like Bolden to gain some semblance of justice after fighting for it for so long.

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