Yolanda Vázquez*

On July 13, 2015, President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of forty-six individuals. They were nonviolent drug offenders, who had been languishing in prison as a result of the War on Drugs and increasing severity in punishment that has occurred in the criminal justice system over the last forty years. The commutations were another act in President Obama‘s attempt to address the problems that have arisen over the last several decades in the United States criminal justice system. These problems have included overcriminalization, severity in sentencing, hyperincarceration, and racial and economic disparities.

Continue reading

* Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati College of Law. I am grateful to Kimberly Breedon, A. Christopher Bryant, Andrea Dennis, Roger Fairfax, Kris Henning, Renée Hutchins, Sherri Keene, Elizabeth Lenhart, Michael Pinard, Carrie Rosenbaum, and Kami Chavis Simmons for their thoughts on drafts of this article. I also wish to thank Guy-Uriel Charles for his invitation to present this piece at the 2016 Jerome Culp Colloquium held at Duke University School of Law and the valuable comments of Jennifer Chacón and Kim Forde-Mazrui as well as its participants; and César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández and Christopher Lasch for their invitation to present this piece at the 2016 Crimmigration Law Lecture Series at the University of Denver School of Law and the val- uable comments of Kevin Johnson and Linus Chan as well as its participants. I am also grateful for the many insightful comments from participants at the Central States Law School Association (CSLSA) Conference 2015, the LatCrit Conference 2015, and the Mid-Atlantic Criminal Law Research Collective (MACLRC) workshop at George Washington Law School. All errors are mine alone.