4 Women Granted Clemency By Clinton

4 Women Granted Clemency By Clinton
Posted by FoM on July 10, 2000 at 08:31:32 PT
By Rick DelVecchio & Debra J. Saunders
Source: San Francisco Chronicle 
In a rare move, President Clinton has granted clemency to four women imprisoned on drug conspiracy charges because they received stricter sentences than the men who were involved in their crimes. White House officials gave scant details of the releases and did not want to discuss them. But Amy Pofahl, released from the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, said yesterday that the three others included Serena Nunn, whose cause, like Pofahl's, had been taken up by publications and several members of Congress. 
All four women were first-time drug offenders. Pofahl was happy to be out but bitter about the near-decade she had just spent behind bars. Pofahl became an outspoken advocate for women imprisoned for long terms under the nation's mandatory drug and sentencing laws. ``I lost my entire 30s to the system,'' Pofahl said in an interview. She had served more than nine years of a 24-year term and marked her 40th birthday three months ago, in prison. Pofahl received news of her imminent release at 9 a.m. Friday at the federal women's lockup near Dublin and was free and among friends by noon. ``It was a bittersweet victory,'' said Pofahl, who slept last night at her grandmother's house in Arkansas. ``I had to leave so many people behind who are in the same situation.'' The U.S. Bureau of Prisons confirmed that Pofahl, Nunn and two other prisoners -- Louise House and Shawndra Mills -- were released Friday, but the bureau refused to elaborate. One man, Alain Orozco, was also set free after serving time on a drug conviction. The clemencies came on the eve of a day designated by Catholics worldwide to show compassion to prisoners. ``The president felt they had served a disproportionate amount of time,'' said White House spokesman Jake Siewert. ``They received much more severe sentences than their husbands and boyfriends.'' Clemency advocates have criticized Clinton for granting comparatively few prison-release requests from nonviolent drug offenders and white-collar criminals. Last year, Clinton used his clemency power to free a group of Puerto Rican nationalists locked up in New York -- a move that prompted criticism because he released men who had been convicted of promoting terrorism. Some in Congress accused Clinton of making the clemency offer to help first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign. Before that clemency, Clinton cut short the sentences of only four other federal prisoners. Pofahl, who was convicted in Texas, and the three other women were first-time drug offenders convicted under federal mandatory minimum-sentencing laws for drug conspiracies, the advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums said in a statement yesterday. Conspiracy laws carry the same penalties as drug trafficking, and they are often used to convict people only marginally involved in a drug offense, such as dealers' wives or girlfriends, according to the group. Pofahl was convicted of transferring money between bank accounts that the government said had been generated illegally by her husband, who prosecutors contended was a major distributor of the drug Ecstasy. Pofahl's husband, Stanford-educated Charles P. Pofahl, cooperated with authorities and served no federal prison time, though he served prison time in Germany, where he was first arrested. His wife, convinced she would not be convicted of a major drug conspiracy, did not go along with prosecutors. ``They want to gain information on whoever the target is,'' she said. ``They say, `If you don't cooperate, we will indict you for conspiracy.' I did do some stuff that ensnared me to the conspiracy.'' Two years after U.S. agents unsuccessfully sought her cooperation, Pofahl was indicted. Her eventual punishment was exceptionally long because the laws under which she was convicted carried mandatory minimum terms. Such automatic sentences were created by Congress in the 1980s at a time when the use of crack cocaine was spreading in the nation's cities. ``The laws were designed to get the kingpins and put them away for a long time, but the kingpins have a lot of information to trade, and that's valuable,'' said prisoners' rights advocate Mikki Norris of El Cerrito. ``A lot of these women are so minor and have no information to trade, so they get stuck with the long sentences,'' she said. Norris said the new clemencies are a significant step in pointing out the disparity. ``It could have significant ramifications for many women in prison who are in on these outrageous conspiracy charges,'' she said. Virginia Resner, the California coordinator for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, said the clemencies are a step toward what she hopes will be amnesty for all nonviolent drug offenders. For some, however, the plight of Amy Pofahl was as personal as it was political. ``Her story broke my heart,'' said Mark Balsiger, a prisoners' rights advocate from El Paso, Texas, who led the push for Pofahl's clemency only to fall in love with her and become her boyfriend. ``I think we saved a life.'' E-mail Chronicle staff writer Rick DelVecchio at rdvoak and Debra Saunders, whose column appears three days a week, at saunders Chronicle wire services contributed to this report. Published: Monday, July 10, 2000 2000 San Francisco Chronicle  Page A1 CannabisNews Justice Archives: Clinton Archives:
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #7 posted by kaptinemo on July 11, 2000 at 06:17:51 PT:
Went fishing
The latest article about Klinton's supposed magnanimity prompted me to go searching through some of my sources. I came up with something that, if you have the time, you *really* ought to look at. It goes a long way towards explaining how we as a culture got this way. And who pulled the strings. It's the sort of stuff my Chinese poli-sci instructor in college was trying to tell me 20 years ago, but I was just too dense, then. 
Why Do the Bureaucrats Make Criminals out of Prostitutes and Drug Users?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by eco on July 11, 2000 at 00:27:12 PT
Republican Party is pure unadulterated evil. 
Greetings, dddd. I think the Republican Party is pure unadulterated evil. I think there are some serious differences between the Democrats and the Republicans on many issues. But on the drug war, the Democrats seem to have decided to play it "safe." But I think the Greens will cause the Democrats to start losing seats, since most Green voters would normally vote Democrat (if they are still voting at all, since lesser-of-evils politics wears thin for many people). This will FORCE the Democrats to lead the charge to start rolling back the drug war in small ways. Same for the environment, which the Democrats have also abandoned progressive positions on many times.*U.S. Rightist Republican (GOP) Drug War. Huge LINKS list! Revised edition. GOP's holy war. Drug war supporters: rabid right, hate radio, hate television, NRA (National Rifle Association), religious right, (snortin') George Bush hypocrisy, etc.. Amnesty 2000. *Greens and the Drug War. Worldwide. Green Party candidates, positions, platforms, etc.. Concerning the Drug War, cannabis, marijuana, etc..
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by dddd on July 10, 2000 at 22:11:03 PT
Hey eco.....I enjoyed your comments,I like your direct style.....especially;"Republicans lead the drug war. Democrats follow. Fascists lead. Flunkies follow. Demagogues talk. DumbassAmericans keep voting Republicans in. Most Americans got their heads up their asses." I am also one,,who finds most republicans,,quite distasteful...but the difference between a republican,and a democrat,is like the difference between Sprite and 7-up...... I dont think most Americans have their heads up their asses,,just because a majority doesnt speak out,or vote,,it dont mean they're hiding out in their butts! You can tell the ones who have their heads in their ass,because they be talkin' shit. Perhaps the makers of Paxil, or Claritin,,can develop some new drug to help these people with CRS,"Cranial-Rectal Syndrome"..........dddd
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by eco on July 10, 2000 at 21:04:20 PT
I doubt a Republican president would give a damn..
I doubt either George Bush senior (who was there when the mandatory minimum laws were created) or his cocaine-using son would have given a damn. Republicans may even now attack Clinton for being "soft on crime." I'm sure the many Republican TV pundits are already doing it now.Republicans lead the drug war. Democrats follow. Fascists lead. Flunkies follow. Demagogues talk. Dumbass Americans keep voting Republicans in. Most Americans got their heads up their asses.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by Dan Hillman on July 10, 2000 at 17:52:43 PT
Why are officials so shy about discussing release?
So the prez and the BOP don't want to talk about the releases? As happy as I am about Amy Pofahl being released, I wonder how politicians who can blow hot and cold on the evils of drugs are suddenly so toungue-tied when it comes to talking about the injustices wreaked by the systems of which they are supposedly in charge. Or maybe the politicians thought is: "if I give a speech commemorating justice, what going to happen if the 100,000's of *other* prisoners are released because people are waking up to the blantant racism and corruption due to a patently injust drug-war, the flames of which I so enthusiastically fanned just before that last election." Quiets a politician right down doesn't it?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by FoM on July 10, 2000 at 13:51:26 PT
I Agree
Hi dddd,That's the way I felt when I was posting this article. As long as the war on drugs keeps going it just isn't enough to make me happy. I'm happy for them but what about all the others?Peace, FoM!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by dddd on July 10, 2000 at 13:22:30 PT
Big deal
The release of these four innocent people is nice,but he forgot about the thousands of other innocents who are rotting behind bars.It's kinda like owing someone $1000.00,and giving them a nickel. The best thing about this,is that it will hopefully further the cause of the people who are still serving time unjustly.......dddd
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: