November 21, 2015 – USA Today picked up the AP video of an interview with clemency recipient Jason Hernandez at the second annual CAN-DO vigil in front of the White House to honor all the POWs that CAN-DO advocates for, including women serving time for any type of drug and both men and women serving time for marijuana. Unfortunately, the reporter for the AP did not clarify that this was a CAN-DO Foundation vigil but we were happy to see the faces of several of the POWs we support. Later, we held up signs of all the women serving long sentences who have filed clemency petitions and are anxiously waiting to hear whether they will be among the lucky lottery winners that will be reunited with their families.
October 12, 2015 – Waging Nonviolence: Thousands of Drug War Prisoners are Going Home Early Thanks to Years of Organizing In-depth interview with CAN-DO’s Amy Povah about 6,000 early releases, including five CAN-DO women who have served time.
September 9, 2015 – Fusion: A Presidential Pardon Saved My Life. Here’s Why Obama Should Pardon Hundreds More Women, Op Ed by Amy Povah was posted on many blogs, including Prof Berman’s Sentencing Law and Policy.
September 11, 2015 – Truthout.org: Mothers Serving Long-Term Drug Sentences Call for Clemency Focuses on the stories of four women on the CAN-DO Top 25 List of Women who Deserve Clemency, primarily Michelle West, and Alice Johnson, Angie Jenkins and Cynthia Shank.
July 7, 2015 – Buzzfeed: Obama’s Potential Clemency Push Can’t Come Soon Enough, Campaigners Say
Frustration over the lack of urgency and efficiency of Clemency Project 2014
July 15, 2015 – Mother Jones: Obama Just Granted Clemency to a Pot Lifer. But Dozens More Remain Behind Bars. References Beth Curtis’s brother John Knock serving life for pot and other pot lifers
January 26, 2015 – New York Times Mark Wahlberg and the Purpose of Pardons Amy Ralston Povah was asked to weigh in as a pardon expert about when and why a pardon should be granted.
November 24, 2014 – San Francisco Chronicle: Time to Extend Thanksgiving Pardons to Humans by Amy Ralston Povah, Op Ed urging President Obama to grant pardons to the many deserving humans at Thanksgiving in addition to two turkeys.
– Reprinted from Playboy Forum, October 2004
Pardon Me, Mr. President,
In May President Bush did something amazing: he commuted the sentences of two prisoners convicted of federal drug charges. I’ve met many other deserving candidates for early release through my foundation, CAN-DO, which I created after I left prison in July 2000. President Clinton granted me clemency after I had served nearly 10 years of a 24-year sentence for collecting bail money for my then-husband, who’d been arrested in Germany on charges of manufacturing Ecstasy.
If the president is interested, I have 17 cases he should know about, described at www.candoclemency.com.
Here are two:
1. Lisa Hanna, an Army veteran, was attending law school in 1992 when her only child, Steven, nine, died of a seizure related to his cerebral palsy. Heartbroken, Lisa began drinking and using methamphetamine. She also was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
She worked to get her life together, passing the bar and getting married. But the marriage turned sour — she says her husband became a meth dealer. By her account, she moved to another city to hide from him after he broke her nose.
When police later busted him for dealing, he fingered Hanna and others to shorten his time behind bars. He received seven years. Lisa is in the fifth year of a I 9-year sentence.
2. Maria Moncada, who lived in Venezuela, planned to visit her half sister in Florida. According to Maria, an acquaintance who traveled with her asked if he could put a pair of shoes in her bag because they didn’t fit in his. Customs officials found heroin in the shoes.
At her trial the dealer, who could have easily testified against her for leniency, swore he had not told Moncada about the drugs. The jury hung.
At a second trial the prosecutor called a witness who Moncada says she had never met — a prisoner who asserted that Maria was part of the ring. She received 12 years.
– Amy Ralston, Malibu, California
Playboy’s response: We asked the Justice Department why the president, who each year receive between 100 and 200 clemency requests, chose to release Geraldine Gordon, 67, and Bobby Mac Berry, 63.
A spokesman had no specifics, but both are in poor health. Gordon, who has had two strokes, served 15 years for selling PCP; the commutation allowed her to leave prison eight months before her scheduled release. Berry had served seven years of a nine-year term for growing marijuana. He suffers from the effects of polio and a prison beating.
These are not courageous political choices — Hanna and Morcada would be.