New Commutation Guidance Presents Opportunities For Relief

Law360, New York (May 14, 2014, 4:11 PM EDT) -- A petition for commutation (reduction) of sentence represents a possible — though difficult — avenue for relief for individuals convicted of crimes who have exhausted their opportunities for appellate remedies. Recent developments, however, provide new reasons for potential commutation petitioners to be hopeful.

The U.S. Department of Justice recently issued new guidance on when the president will consider granting commutation petitions. Deputy Attorney General James Cole has called for the submission of commutation petitions where the petitioners (1) are serving sentences which, by operation of law, would likely have been substantially less if sentenced today, (2) are nonviolent, low-level offenders without...

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