John Legend pens open letter to President Obama for nonviolent drug offenders

Photo Credit: Instagram - @johnlegend

Photo Credit: Instagram – @johnlegend

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.

I'm a lover of quirks and writing compelling pieces for my readers.


  • nosey rosy
    December 11, 2016

    ummm great idea , great men are born not produced . john has taken an approach many would never do . speak for the unheard voices , inmates are limited and hopeless in this battle on drug war , congress care more about the mexican cartel, which is link to border breech… than black men locked away many years on chump charges , small cases reagan administration caused. by allowing mexico to not take responsibility for its part in mexicans fleeing their land. george bush pardon a few white men whom were old and actually killed people . obama is the most compassionate president we will ever have EVER! Idoubt if he will let anymore go home.he did a lot already .. but his effords may cause trump to act. time will tell thanks john legend we need more caring people like u in america

  • TX Advocate
    December 11, 2016

    John Legend extending his social and celebrity capital to a paradigm that affects millions of individuals across the nation, should not be considered a rarity or an exceptional gesture. Even though by all means it is.

    However, it should be the EXPECTATION of those in possession of the power to persuade to do so. To lend their influence, voice and status to an effort that releases non-violent drug offenders and possibly allowing them to return to our communities is a wonderful thing.

    What are we going to do with them when they get here. Where are they going to live and work? Are YOU, if you are able, are you going to assist in that process? Are you going to give someone a job that has a criminal background? Are you going to rent to an individual that has been to prison?

    What part are WE going to play in this process?

    What about the violent offenders? Are they to be thrown away forever in prison? Regardless of the age at the commission of the crime? Regardless of the transformation and evolution as a human being? Should President Obama only release those with drug offenses? What happens to those men and women who are convicted of a violent crime and left to rot in privately funded cages?

    I laud every individuals’ effort in forwarding the narrative of equity, equality and egalitarian accessibility for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated folks, but we can do more. Lots more.
    #yeahman @lewisconway_jr

Post a Comment