Department of Justice Expands Clemency Opportunities

Web Admin - Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently released changes to the rules that govern which offenders are eligible for clemency. The changes are targeted at federal drug offenders who may have received particularly harsh sentences based on mandatory minimum sentences or other sentencing procedures that are now deemed unfair. The changes affect the 216,000 inmates currently in federal prisons, though preliminary estimates suggest that only approximately 2,000 inmates would be eligible for clemency under the new rules.

What Is Clemency?

Clemency is a power granted to the President under the Constitution that allows him to affect the sentences of federal inmates. Ordinarily, the Office of the Pardon Attorney, a branch of the DOJ, examines the applications initially, and makes a recommendation to the Deputy Attorney General. The Deputy Attorney General then passes their own recommendation on to the President who makes the final decision.

Clemency comes in two forms, a pardon or a commutation of a sentence. A pardon represents the President’s forgiveness of the offender for the crime, and often signifies reform or good behavior. This type of clemency will also remove many civil disabilities that come along with a conviction, such as loss of the right to vote or hold state office. Conversely, a commutation is a lesser type of clemency, which can reduce or eliminate a person’s sentence, but will not remove civil disabilities. Importantly, neither type of clemency reverses a conviction or in any way implies that the pardoned offender is innocent.

The New Rules

The new rules released by the DOJ do not replace the old clemency standards, but instead expand on them. They are mainly targeted at drug offenders, but could apply to any inmate with a conviction for any low-level nonviolent offense. The six criteria that the DOJ will examine are:

  • - The inmate must be serving a federal sentence that would be substantially lower if the inmate were convicted of that same offense today;
  • - The inmate must be a “non-violent, low-level” offender with no strong connections to serious criminal organizations, gangs, or cartels;
  • - The individual must have served at least 10 years of their term in prison;
  • - The inmate must not have a large history of criminal activity;
  • - The inmate must have had good behavior while incarcerated; and
  • - The inmate must not have a history of violence either prior to their incarceration or during it.

While meeting these criteria does not necessarily qualify an inmate for clemency, the DOJ has stated that they would “prioritize” clemency applications from people in these categories since they believe that they may be “especially meritorious.”

If you believe that you or a loved one could qualify under these new, expanded clemency standards, seek advice from a skilled Illinois criminal defense attorney. Our team has experience handling cases from across the northwest suburbs, including in Rolling Meadows, Palatine, and Schaumburg.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Recent Posts


Inverness elder law lawyer landlord Buffalo Grove traffic attorney Schaumburg wrongful death attorney blood alcohol content Rolling Meadows criminal attorney estate planning attorney medical malpractice claims Schaumburg personal injury lawyers Crystal Lake injury attorney first degree murder estate tax homestead rights Des Plaines drug crimes lawyer Illinois will lawyer personal injury lawyer Palatine employment attorney preventable medical errors Illinois DUI attorney Barrington medical malpractice lawyers motorcycle accident Crystal Lake business law attorneys Crystal Lake employment law attorney School Visitation Rights Act Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyers Des Plaines medical malpractice attorney eluding a police officer product liability estate planning, death tax, succession plans, business estate plans, Barrington estate planning lawyers FSLA Illinois LLC creation Schaumburg Illinois jet ski accident lawyer medical malpractice truck collisions tax attorney Rolling Meadows employment law attorneys anesthesia errors subcontractor Arlington Heights insurance attorney Des Plaines collections attorney drug crimes lawyer Illinois insurance claim dispute lawyers traumatic brain injuries digital information Crystal Lake law firm no contest clauses probate lawyer Mount Prospect wills and trusts lawyers Arlington Heights Attorney Illinois lawyer Rolling Meadows traffic law firm Crystal Lake employment lawyer Buffalo Grove traffic lawyers Illinois attorney Chicago corporate attorney Illinois probate lawyer Barrington criminal defense lawyer work unions pain and suffering texting while driving Chicago biking tips estate attorney Colin Gilbert Palatine traffic lawyer disability benefits insurance denials Illinois estate planning power of attorney probate claims Forcible Entry traffic crimes Illinois insurance claim dispute lawyer Arlington Heights wills and trusts attorney healthcare insurance claims food poisoning Illinois workers compensation attorney bike accident liability Illinois mortgages Transfer on Death Instrument PTSD Home Sale Contingencies privacy laws Illinois employment attorneys Schaumburg medical malpractice lawyer Illinois business law atorneys Illinois medical malpractice lawyers products liability boating accidents Palatine injury attorney defective products Class A misdemeanor Deer Park personal injury lawyer Illinois criminal defense attorney estate planning lawyer trench injuries employment contract irrevocable trust Illinois wrongful termination lawyer DNR Illinois personal injury lawyers small business Des Plaines injury law firm rollover car crashes insurance attorney Illinois employment law Attorney Ken Apicella Schaumburg employment attorney Long Grove real estate attorney Illinois pedestrian accident attorney civil litigation TBI Deer Park traffic lawyer Des Plaines personal injury attorney gift taxes Mount Prospect real estate lawyer Barrington workers compensation attorney personal injury accidents drugs installment contracts Rolling Meadows insurance attorney Illinois construction accident attorney agent wrongful termination, employment law, whistleblower protections, Illinois employment laws, discrimination in the workplace Schaumburg insurance lawyers Schaumburg injury lawyer Chicago employment lawyer Illinois Transfer on Death Instrument Rolling Meadows criminal lawyer insurance claim dispute privacy real estate lawyer deadly crashes Palatine estate planning lawyer Inverness probate lawyer Illinois wills and trusts Illinois personal injury head on collisions owner responsibility taxes Barrington estate planning lawyer drug crimes Palatine probate lawyer Arlington Heights wills and trusts lawyers traffic laws Illinois tax attorney Palatine traffic accidents wrongful termination in terrorem provision reckless homicide income distribution deducation drunk driving statistics college kids slip and fall Illinois insurance dispute lawyers Illinois registered agent Illinois employment lawyer suspended license federal regulations for LLCs Chicago trucking accident attorney Inverness traffic law firm Barrington drug crime attorney CAM Illinois small business Illinois workplace discrimination attorney bicycle dooring accidents underage DUI personal injury claim unauthorized overtime Barrington business law firm denied insurance claim spinal cord injuries paid sick leave insurance claim denial Mt Prospect Attorney boating under the influence pedestrian accident trusts Rolling Meadows employment attorney BAIID Buffalo Grove corporate attorney comp time insurance denial appeals Mount Prospect elder law attorney Des Plaines Traffic Lawyer Illinois injury lawyer Illinois employee rights attorney. cell phone tower data Thanksgiving license suspension Chicago estate planning caretaker rights BAC Detainer Actions Palatine trusts lawyer Illinois elder law attorney Chicago car accident lawyer compensatory time Chicago attorney Arlington Heights injury attorney Affordable Care Act employees criminal law capital gains tax filing a medical malpractice claim Buffalo Grove employment lawyer severance agreements Barrington Illinois estate planning lawyer swimming pools field sobriety test trust payments Buffalo Grove car accident lawyer Illinois personal injury attorney Crystal Lake insurance lawyer Palatine drug lawyer Inverness DUI lawyer Rolling Meadows insurance dispute lawyers Illinois traffic attorney slip and fall accidents landlord tenant law Illinois insurance disputes Illinois trucking safety DUI penalities Employment Discrimination Law contracts Arlington Heights estate planning attorney social media after death Buffalo Grove probate lawyer Rolling Meadows DUI lawyer Des Plaines tax law firm estate planning trusts Illinois workplace lawyer breach of contract Buffalo Grove personal injury attorney Illinois civil litigation lawyer Des Plaines personal injury lawyers Illinois real estate insurance claim delay Illinois Smoke Detector Act vacation home changes to mortgage law Des Plaines Des Plaines drug lawyer DMV life insurance lawyer Family Medical Leave Act Arlington Heights traffic attorney traffic violations defense criminal Des Plaines pet law attorney Illinois Probate Act of 1975 brain injury Riverwoods estate planning lawyer Crystal Lake civil litigation lawyer Deer Park accident attorney rent to own real estate contracts Schaumburg criminal attorney Illinois trusts attorney Illinois car accident attorney accidental death benefits driving Crystal Lake car accident lawyer involuntary manslaughter jet ski Palatine Attorney Long Grove estate planning attorney medical research Illinois estate planning law firm car crash Illinois pet lawyer bicycle accidents IRS new real estate form ObamaCare Policy Cancellation Illinois law overtime pay estate planning, digital assets, Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, Illinois digital assets, Illinois estate planning, Crystal Lake estate planning lawyer Barrington employment law attorney pedestrian-automobile accident Rolling Meadows drug defense attorney personal injury Arlington Heights employment attorney Deer Park medical malpractice attorney caregiver cell phone accidents Deer Park traffic accident attorney car accident Crystal Lake medical malpractice lawyer Palatine corporate law attorneys Palatine civil attorney clemency Palatine elder law attorney Palatine construction attorney condo association Deer Park employment law attorney Chicago insurance claim attorneys Crystal Lake employment attorney sexual images Self-Directed IRA Accounts Barrington employment law firm sexual harassment auto accidents Crystal lake insurance dispute attorney Home Remodeling Repair Act Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Arlington Heights medical malpractice lawyer loopholes dealing with problem employees Crystal Lake personal injury lawyer Liquor Control Act Barrington attorney insurance dispute, insurance dispute lawyers, insurance claim denial, insurance claim delays, Rolling Meadows insurance dispute attorneys manufacturing Illinois red light cameras Illinois Sales Representative Act Crystal Lake tax lawyer employment attorney Crystal Lake pedestrian accident lawyer consent to a search real estate attorney Illinois Trust Code Chicago traffic lawyer denied insurance claims Illinois corporate lawyer Des Plaines accident attorney trustee corporate law Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act independent contractor Illinois employment laws insurance agents Schaumburg civil litigation attorney Illinois medical malpractice attorney Buffalo Grove law firm Barrington personal injury attorney Inverness estate planning lawyer mass shooting Illinois insurance claim attorney mortgage Inverness accident lawyer Schaumburg employment law attorneys Schaumburg personal injury lawyer hiring employees Rolling Meadows probate lawyer Illinois speeding lawyer nursing home negligence fault based insurance workers compensation benefits liens insurance claim Rolling Meadows expungement Long Grove estate planning attorneys minimum wage Barrington Traffic Lawyer Super Mario senior citizens Buffalo Grove real estate attorney Crystal Lake car accident attorney Illinois employment law attorneys spinal cord injury insurance adjusters appealing an insurance claim Chicago insurance law firm South Barrington real estate lawyer Inverness injury lawyer unfunded trust criminal defense Rolling Meadows litigation lawyer Rolling Meadows Attorney Deer Park real estate law firm drug crime Arlington Heights employment law attorneys unpaid overtime Arlington Heights lawyer liability claims insurance disputes Des Plaines claims law firm denial of life insurance employment lawyer digital assets, digital fiduciary, estate planning, digital content, Long Grove estate planning lawyers condo blended families car accident lawyers traffic violations coronavirus marijuana Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act golf accidents Des Plaines real estate attorney Rolling Meadows medical malpractice lawyers murder charges Illinois insurance lawyer Rolling Meadows personal injury attorney foreclosure natural gas home inspection lawyer overtime violations Arlington Heights car crash attorneys revenge porn traffic tickets distracted driving accident victims dog bites internet Rolling Meadows estate planning attorney Deer Park workers compensation lawyer Schaumburg Attorney Exclusions real estate license reinstatement Barrington personal injury lawyer Illinois bicycle safety Schaumburg estate planning attorney back injuries insurance claim dispute attorney car accidents Illinois wills and trusts attorneys Deer Park motorcycle accident lawyer pedestrian accidents Crystal Lake accident attorney Des Plaines civil attorney insurance agent negligence Barrington estate planning attorney Jay Andrew workers compensation civil rights violation employee rights Barrington employment attorney dynasty trusts workers comp fiduciary rule wills and trusts Illinois collections attorney digital evidence Arlington Heights car accident lawyer Kenilworth estate planning lawyer digital media accounts, estate planning, Arlington Heights estate planning attorney, employment law, Illinois employment laws insurance dispute Rolling Meadows insurance lawyer hit and run accident Des Plaines personal injury lawyer Rolling Meadows marijuana attorney Retaliatory Discharge uninsured motorist premises liability Illinois personal injury lawyer Buffalo Grove injury lawyer creditors Crystal Lake medical malpractice law firm underinsured motorist Whistleblower Claims financial advisors icy parking lots comparative negligence child safety marijuana crimes attorney license forming a corporation in Illinois Rolling Meadows real estate attorney Inverness real estate attorney Inverness civil lawyer Illinois workers compensation lawyer personal injury claims Des Plaines insurance attorney breathalyzer test rest breaks Rolling Meadows employment law attorney fiduciary rule delay health insurance dispute business litigation Illinois defective products attorney fatal car accidents Do Not Resuscitate Buffalo Grove personal injury lawyer construction accidents probate fees DGAA life insurance policy Arlington Heights Traffic Lawyer traffic accidents attorney fees Illinois employment law attorney Arlington Heights accident attorney Kenilworth estate planning attorneys Schaumburg corporate attorney jet ski accidents pet bites defective products lawyer medical marijuana problem employees digital assets Illinois medical malpractice case medical malpractice, missed diagnosis, delayed diagnosis, medical mistake, Deer Creek medical malpractice lawyers Buffalo Grove insurance claim dispute lawyers startup company Joliet general practice lawyers DUI attorney Schaumburg personal injury attorney pedestrian injuries, pedestrian fatality real estate closing Schaumburg traffic lawyer Chicago will attorney Crystal Lake traffic attorney right to work institutional trustee distracted driving accidents Illinois employment law firm pet law Illinois real estate lawyer commercial leasing Chicago will attorney, social media platforms, Illinois estate planning lawyer, living trust benefits Palatine employment lawyer Illinois insurance attorney medication errors modern family estate planning Arlington Heights wills and trusts attorneys FMLA employee misclassification Arlington Heights trucking lawyer employment law, meal breaks, rest breaks, hotel employees, Des Plaines employment law attorneys probate employee discrimination Crystal Lake criminal defense attorney Illinois living will meal breaks Arlington Heights personal injury lawyer Barrington injury attorney Des Plaines real estate lawyer insurance negligence Kenilworth estate planning attorney personal injury attorney Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission living trust vs will Chicago lawyer employment contract, employment law, employment at-will, Deer Park employment law attorneys, contract, probate claims process Landlord Tenant Ordinance elder abuse crossover accidents Inverness personal injury attorney Palatine business attorney Inverness real estate lawyer construction contracts GM ignition switches DUI preventing accidents Rolling Meadows accident lawyer medical malpractice compensation Rolling Meadows corporate lawyer car collision Palatine punch death Barrington criminal lawyer Schaumburg drug defense lawyer controlled substance car accident lawyer hands free device Illinois traumatic brain injury Crystal Lake bike accident lawyer Des Plaines motorcycle accident attorney LLCs trucking accident lawyers trucking accidents pregnant women Des Plaines criminal attorney Long Grove real estate lawyer IRA trust transfer Palatine criminal defense lawyer Des Plaines DUI attorney Arlington Heights real estate lawyer speeding foreclosed rental property Illinois Human Rights Act Barrington real estate lawyer surgical mistakes Illinois insurance claims lawyers vacation home fines Illinois traffic ticket lawyer Buffalo Grove medical malpractice lawyers Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act Inverness corporate attorney ACA Chicago employment attorney estate plan car crash injuries insurance claim denials ken apicella Schaumburg car accident attorney Illinois traffic attorneys federal crimes Rolling Meadows Traffic Lawyer Crystal Lake will lawyer Crystal Lake medical malpractice attorneys Buffalo Grove criminal defense lawyer Long Grove wills and trusts attorneys civil litigation attorney natural gas explosion murder defense underfunded trust residential real estate Crystal Lake personal injury attorney Palatine workers compensation lawyer life insurance real estate contract Long Grove estate planning Fair Labor Standards Act insurance disputes, Illinois insurance disputes, Illinois insurance dispute attorneys, denied insurance claims, Arlington Heights insurance dispute attorneys real estate leasing trauma after an accident commercial real estate operating agreements Rolling Meadows traffic attorney pizza emoji whistleblower protections car crashes llinois Real Estate Lawyers Association loss of consortium living wills personal injury law firm real estate attorneys Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyer Crystal Lake pet attorney guardianship attorney BUI wage theft Barrington boating accident attorney unpaid assessment Arlington Heights tax lawyer Illinois traffic laws Chicago estate planning lawyer Arlington Heights criminal lawyer traffic deaths drug possession bad faith insurance claims license revocation advance healthcare directive boating DUI Deer Park DUI lawyer Illinois business lawyer Rolling Meadows tax attorney Palatine real estate lawyer Illinois rollover accident lawyers living trust Palatine law firm Palatine civil litigation lawyer elder law power of attorney for healthcare rollover accidents Rolling Meadows business lawyer Schaumburg probate attorney construction accidents, personal injury, wrongful death, Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys, workers' compensation holiday statistics estate planning for college students motorcycle accident lawyer probate process cell phone Rolling Meadows car accident lawyers Schaumburg estate attorney dram shop law Fourth of July DUI defense Rolling Meadows boating crash lawyer Barrington civil litigation attorney South Barrington real estate attorney Illinois traffic accident lawyer Illinois estate planning attorney Illinois motorcycle accident lawyer drunk driving Illinois home inspection rumble strips Schaumburg estate planning lawyer Illinois medical malpractice claim Schaumburg real estate lawyer job lawyers estate planning personal injury, auto accident injuries, delayed injuries, serious injuries, Des Plaines personal injury attorneys pay when paid contract Legal Info traffic offenses investment property Crystal Lake traffic lawyer POA Palatine employment law lawyer Palatine insurance lawyer Colin H. Gilbert workplace sexual harassment Schaumburg construction accident lawyer life insurance claims Illinois boating accident lawyer sole proprietorship Deer Park criminal attorney IRA benefits Illinois driving without license Arlington Heights wills and trusts lawyer real estate zoning Inverness insurance attorney Arlington Heights TBI attorney wills murder Barrington litigation attorney Illinois job attorney IRELA gift tax exemption, estate planning, estate planning strategies, Illinois estate planning, South Barrington estate planning attorneys automated cars wrongful death employment law Palatine corporate attorney Arlington Heights pedestrian accidents Schaumburg criminal law attorney Rolling Meadows insurance dispute lawyers, insurance dispute low-ball insurance settlement Palatine personal injury lawyer commercial leases Schaumburg elder law lawyer special needs trust insurance dispute attorney texting and driving healthcare claims criminal record deed transfer