Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Exodus Coalition Plan?

The Exodus Coalition Plan is a plan for increasing the number of federal prisoners eligible for clemency before President Obama leaves office. It offers a new set of criteria for clemency and a method for identifying those who meet those criteria on a case by case basis over a short period of time. It acknowledges a consensus among legal experts that four decades of the War on Drugs has led to a damaging reduction in judicial discretion, unduly punitive sentencing, overuse of plea bargaining, errors in criminal jurisprudence, and racial disparities in arrests and sentencing which have resulted in tens of thousands of Americans left to waste away in federal cages.

Why is the Exodus Coalition Plan Needed?

The current criteria for granting clemency are too restrictive and consequently unjust requiring a long waiting period (originally 5 years, and now 10 years) to make application, it assesses infractions unfavorably in an environment where infractions should be expected; outcomes are unpredictable because the current criteria put the burden on applicants and attorneys to compare current sentencing and policy to past sentencing and policy to make a case that one’s sentence would be lower if convicted today.

Who is eligible for clemency under the Exodus Coalition Plan?

A federal prisoner, including white collar crimes and all offense types, meeting the Exodus Plan definition of nonviolent or overcharged:
a)with a nonviolent charge who has served at least 3 years of their sentence
b)with a weapons offense wherein the weapon was not used in the crime, but added 10-15 years to their sentence, who has served at least 5 years.
c)with a charge attributable to guilt by association, who has served at least 1 year
d)who is not an American citizen and falls into groups a-c above, and will have the option to return to his/her homeland or be put on probation until granted or denied citizenship or legal status.
e)classified as seriously violent (rape, murder, incest, weapons charges) or cognitively impaired but poses low risk to society as determined by a team of forensic psychologists who recommend for transfer to locked mental health facility or supervised release. For example, a person charged and convicted of murder may actually have acted in self-defense. Such persons must be allowed to make their cases for clemency.
f) previously released persons who have clean records for 10 years receive a posthumous pardon or certificate of pardon if still living.
g) Excluding seriously violent persons, any federal prisoner over 59 years of age having served at least 15 years of their sentence.

What makes the Exodus Coalition Plan feasible and fair?

Scientifically validated — It utilizes the Ohio Risk Assessment Tool which has been used over 25 years in the U.S. Court system. Measures will be taken to prevent bias in the use of the tool.
Sound fiscal policy – It will save 21 billion over a 10 year period if upwards of 72,000 granted clemency.
Safer for prisoners and communities – Clemency is fair reaches more federal inmates and equates to less time in prison which in turn produces less trauma and better adjustment. Fragile families become strengthened in the community with the return of a loved one with earning power and caring time. Victim repair and restorative justice is included as a major feature of the effort.
Socially Just – It is the right thing to do to correct gross injustices in sentencing.

How will the plan be implemented?

The Exodus Coalition Plan calls on President Obama to commute the sentences of all who meet our criteria and thereafter, in cooperation with the appropriate federal agencies, Exodus and UNC-Charlotte criminal justice scholars and trained evaluators will go into federal prisons and conduct the screening process and risk assessment requisite to a clemency recommendation.

How long will it take, how much will it cost, how will it benefit?

We estimate a 5 year process at a cost of $20,135,000 and a savings of 21 billion over a 10 year period assuming 72,000 of the 80,000 or more federal prisoners classified as nonviolent and overcharged qualify for clemency. Moreover, at an average earned income of $30,000 at a 15% tax rate, we estimate an increase in tax revenues of $161,000,000 annually.

Who will cover the costs of the Exodus Coalition Plan?

We recommend a line item in Homeland Security or public/private venture collaboration

How does the Exodus Coalition Plan ensure public safety?

The Ohio Risk Assessment tool measures readiness for re-entry and cognitive thought processes that could lead to more anti-social behavior. Those whose risk can be measured in the low to moderate range would be recommended for clemency automatically provided they scored sufficiently well on the Exodus Plan screening tool. Additionally, a re-entry plan for services will be provided for each commute specific to the community in which he/she returns.

What is the President asked to do in the Plan?

We ask President Obama to issue a decree of amnesty granting systematic commutations of the remaining portion of the sentences of all who qualify according the Exodus Coalition Plan. Thereafter, over an estimated 5 year period, Exodus and UNC-Charlotte Criminal Justice Scholars will train and prepare groups to individually screen federal prisoners in all 122 federal institutions who have nonviolent convictions or meet the definition of overcharged.

What will happen to prisoners if this plan or something better is not adopted

Thousands of American citizens and immigrants will waste away and/or die in federal cages without justification and the public trust in our criminal justice system will continue to deteriorate—creating the greatest risk to public safety in the long-term.