A Federal Judge Battles to Liberate Drug War Inmates She Put Behind Bars

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While a recent speech was given prior to the Aspen Ideas Festival, former federal judge Nancy Gertner, who brought the gavel down for close to 20 years under the Clinton Administration, criticized the punishments she delivered throughout the years for drug-related crimes

Out of the many sentences she has delivered, “80 percent I believe were unfair and disproportionate,” she told the crowd. “I left the bench in 2011 to join the Harvard faculty to write about those stories––to write about how it came to pass that I was obliged to sentence people to terms that, frankly, made no sense under any philosophy.”

Gertner then went on to state that the drug war should be put to rest in the same manner as was done at the close of WWII utilizing the concept of the Marshall Plan when America made the choice to create forward strategies to assist the victims ravaged by the war instead of beating the dead horse once ridden by its enemy

We need a big idea,” she stated, if we want to save the population that has been missing and downtrodden by the War on Drugs.

“This is a war that I saw destroy lives,” she said. “It eliminated a generation of African-American men, covered our racism in ostensibly neutral guidelines and mandatory minimums… and created an intergenerational problem––although I wasn’t on the bench long enough to see this, we know that the sons and daughters of the people we sentenced are in trouble and are in trouble with the criminal justice system.”
“It fundamentally eliminated their political participation,” she continued. “We were not leveling cities as we did in WWII with bombs, but with prosecution, prison, and punishment.
The process to right her wrong, Gertner stated that her Marshall Plan incorporates lobbying for presidential clemency for deserving prisoners that she had a hand in putting behind bars as well as aiding those people and their families to rebuild with further complications.
“The impact of the criminal justice system that I presided over, in my small way, was systemic,” Gertner said. “Our response to it has to be systemic.”

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