Biden indicts Kennedy-era Secret Service agent and others on drug-related charges

U.S. President Biden arrives at Joint Base Andrews, in Maryland

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — President Joe Biden has granted three clemency clemency the first of his term, granting clemency to a Kennedy-era Secret Service agent convicted of federal bribery charges that he tried to sell a copy of an agency file and Two men who were convicted on drug-related charges but became pillars in their communities.

The Democratic president also reduced the sentence to another 75 for nonviolent, drug-related convictions. The White House announced the clemency on Tuesday as it launched a series of job training and re-entry programs for people in prison or recently released.

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Many of those receiving commutation are serving sentences of home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many were serving longer sentences and were given shorter sentences for the same offense today as a result of the 2018 bipartisan sentencing reform introduced into law by the Trump administration.

“America is a land of laws and second chances, redemption and rehabilitation,” Biden said in a statement announcing the clemency.

“Elected officials, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders on both sides of the aisle agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values ​​that enable safe and strong communities.”

The clemency granted is:

–Abraham Bolden Sr., 86, the first Black Secret Service agent to serve for the presidency. In 1964, Bolden, who served on the description of President John F. Kennedy, faced federal bribery allegations that he attempted to sell a copy of a Secret Service file. His first trial ended in a hung jury.

Following her conviction in the second trial, key witnesses admitted to lying at the request of the prosecutor. Bolden of Chicago was again denied trial and served several years in federal prison. Bolden has maintained his innocence and wrote a book in which he argues that he was targeted for speaking out against racist and unprofessional behavior in the Secret Service.

— Betty Jo Bogans, 51, was convicted in 1998 of attempting to transport drugs for her boyfriend and his partner with the intention of distributing crack cocaine in Texas. Bogans, a single mother with no prior record, received a seven-year sentence. In the years since his release from prison, Bogans has found steady employment even while undergoing treatment for cancer, and has raised a son.

— Dexter Jackson, 52, of Athens, Georgia, was convicted in 2002 of using his pool hall to facilitate the smuggling of marijuana. Jackson pleaded guilty and admitted that he had allowed his business to be used by marijuana dealers.

After Jackson was released from prison, he turned his business into a cellphone repair service, which employs local high school students through a program that provides work experience to young adults. Jackson has built and renovated homes in his community, which lacks affordable housing.

Civil rights and criminal justice reform groups have urged the White House to work harder to reduce sentencing and reduce inequalities in the criminal justice system. Biden’s clemency grant also comes as the administration faces congressional scrutiny over misconduct and the treatment of inmates at the federal Bureau of Prisons, which is responsible for inmates serving home sentences.

As head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden helped shepherd through a 1994 crime bill that many criminal justice experts say contributed to harsher punishment and mass incarceration of black people.

During his 2020 White House run, Biden vowed to reduce the number of people imprisoned in the US and called for turning nonviolent drug offenders to drug courts and treatment.

He has also stressed on better training for law enforcement and called for reforms in the criminal justice system to address the inequalities that make minorities and the poor a disproportionate part of the country’s population.

Inimai Chettiar, federal director of criminal justice reform advocacy group Justice Action Network, called Biden’s earlier pardons and commutations “just modest steps” and urged Biden to “meet the urgency of the moment.”

“President Biden was following through on a promise to help end mass confinement, and he has widespread public support for that promise,” Chettiar said.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, granted 237 pardons and 143 pardons during his four-year term.

Trump sought the advice of prison reform advocate Alice Johnson, a black woman whose life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense she commuted in 2018. He was lobbied by celebrity Kim Kardashian as well as advisers inside the White House, including daughter Ivanka Trump and son. -In-Law Jared Kushner, as he weighs applications for clemency.

Republicans used their pardon authority to help many political friends and allies, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Republican operative Roger Stone and Ivanka Trump’s father-in-law, Charles Kushner.

Trump’s final acts as president were to pardon his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and Al Pirro, the husband of Fox News host and Trump aide Jeanine Pirro.

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Prosecutors allege that Bannon, who had not yet been prosecuted when he was pardoned, defrauded thousands of donors who believed their money was used to build a wall along the southern border, Trump’s mainstay. To fulfill the promise of the campaign. Instead, Bannon reportedly diverted more than $1 million, paying a campaign executive a salary and personal expenses for himself. Pirro was indicted on tax charges in 2000.

According to the White House, Biden has issued more clemency than any of the past five presidents at this point, with a slate of clemency and commutation announced on Tuesday.

In addition to granting clemency, Biden announced a number of new initiatives to help formerly incarcerated people gain employment—an issue that his administration has taken to reduce crime rates and prevent recidivism. driving home.

The Department of Labor is directing $140 million for programs that provide job training for youth and adults in captivity, pre-apprenticeship programs, digital literacy training and pre-release and post-release career counseling and more.

The $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress last year includes a trio of grant programs that the administration says boost the hiring of formerly imprisoned individuals. And the Departments of Labor and Justice on Tuesday announced a collaborative plan to provide $145 million next year on on-the-job skills training as well as individual employment and reentry plans for people who serve time in the Bureau of Prisons.

Biden said the new initiative is important to help get the more than 600,000 people released from prison on stable ground each year.

“Helping those who gave their time, returning to their families and becoming contributing members of their communities, is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism and crime,” Biden said.

Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.