John Legend has flexed his political and activist muscles on many occasions in the past, making him one of the most beloved and outspoken celebrity activists of our generation. And recently, Legend flexed his power and influence for the greater good again when he wrote an open letter to President Barack Obama asking that he lend a helping hand to nonviolent drug offenders.
According to reports, Legend recently published the letter via Rolling Stone and asked Obama to grant clemency to as many non-violent drug offenders as possible before his term as president ends. In the letter, Legend notes the Obama administration’s unprecedented work to commute sentences for drug offenders and their work to reduce the use of private federal prisons.
“Your administration took bold steps to end juvenile solitary confinement, reduce the use of federal private prisons and move to ‘ban the box’ for federal employees,” wrote Legend, before explaining that he fears the fate of the inmates under Trump’s administration. “While we hope the Trump administration and the 115th Congress will maintain this progress and continue to work in a bipartisan manner to reform our criminal justice system, it is unclear what their priorities will be and when families can expect justice. Before you leave office, I would like to add my voice to the more than 2 million Americans who have asked you to use your clemency and pardon powers to bring justice to the thousands of families of non-violent drug offenders who have waited far too long for Congress to act.”
Legend then explained that the War on Drugs did far more harm than good and that many inmates shouldn’t be left in prison to suffer harsh and cruel punishments that they don’t deserve.
“In 2014, you set out to reinvigorate our country’s approach to clemency. Your actions to commute the sentences of 944 individuals, including 324 life sentences, is unprecedented in the modern era. Nonetheless, more action is needed to dismantle the unjust policies of the past 40 years. An estimated 36,000 non-violent drug offenders housed in federal prisons have sought relief under your clemency initiative and it is unclear how many of the remaining cases will be reviewed before you leave. As the Surgeon General noted, drug addiction is not a moral failing but a chronic health issue deserving of our compassion. What is a moral failing, however, is the War on Drugs and America’s addiction to incarceration which has not increased safety but needlessly torn families apart,” Legend wrote.
Legend continued, “At the birth of our nation, the Founding Fathers entrusted the clemency responsibility to the President. Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution of the United States provides: ‘The President … shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.’ Just as George W. Bush urged you to proactively address clemency on your way to your first inauguration in 2009, I am asking you to bring justice to thousands of families by granting as many clemencies as possible before you leave office.”
What do you think of Legend’s letter to President Obama? Let us know in the comments.