With Obama’s presidency nearing an end, the race for clemency heats up. Under Clemency Project 2014, the White House can reduce harsh federal sentences for mostly nonviolent drug offenders, who have served at least 10 years of their sentences, using current, more lenient guidelines. As of early October, the President has granted 1,176 commutations, 605 of which were supported by Clemency Project 2014.

Through Clemency Project 2014 — a working group composed of attorneys and advocates, including the Federal Defenders, the American Civil Liberties Union, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the American Bar Association, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers — approximately 60 Kilpatrick Townsend attorneys have volunteered 4,650 hours to determine inmate eligibility; analyze and review documents; consult with clients, and complete and file clemency petitions over the past two years. To date, the firm has represented 52 clients. Of these, we obtained clemency for 11 inmates all serving life sentences, and have approximately 12 petitions still pending.

According to Pro Bono Partner Tamara Serwer Caldas, “The impact of Clemency Project 2014 on both our clients and our attorneys is beyond measure. For our 11 clients who received clemency, they now have a second chance at life. Five will be released before 2017, with families ready to welcome them home and help transition back into society. For our attorneys, one partner told me that his call to his incarcerated client was the single best client phone call of his career. Another had to fight back the tears when describing how it felt to receive the White House’s decision and then immediately inform the client that he would be home by Christmas.”


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Won The American Lawyer’s “2015 Global Citizenship Award - Global Pro Bono Dispute of the Year” for the Signal International Litigation.