Biden Administration Pardon Takes A Step in the Right Direction Towards Justice

WASHINGTON, DC – Director of Strategic Initiatives and National Programming Rena Karefa-Johnson responds to President Biden’s announcement to pardon all prior federal offenses for simple possession of marijuana:

“We’re very encouraged by this long overdue correction towards justice. There is much more to do to acknowledge and remedy the devastating, multi-generational consequences of the failed War on Drugs, and we hope this is the first of many more actions from the Biden administration. Draconian drug enforcement policies and the incendiary, racist rhetoric upon which they were built targeted Black and Brown communities, filled federal and state prisons and local jails and did nothing to stem the availability of drugs or to advance public safety.

“Despite equal rates of use, Black people are arrested for marijuana possession at nearly four times the rate of white people. The President’s push to reclassify the drug, pardon all prior federal possessions, and his call for Governors to do the same is just a start. It is a significant step forward and it will lessen the collateral consequences for many people. Yet it still excludes many immigrants and others who have and still are suffering from extreme federal drug sentences for other drug-related offenses.

“So many more meaningful federal criminal justice reforms are widely supported and long overdue. We look forward to working with President Biden’s administration to build on this moment to expand freedom to many more people – both citizens and undocumented people – harmed by the drug war and by mass incarceration.”

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