In January, the
In April, the department announced fairly restrictive eligibility guidelines. Prisoners must have served at least 10 years, have no violent history and have received a substantially longer sentence than they would have received today.
Some of those who have applied so far may still receive clemency, as the number officially rejected or otherwise processed is only in the hundreds, according to a Justice Department official who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The so-called Clemency Project 2014 group of lawyers trying to help prisoners win clemency is still processing more than 20,000 applications, according to sentencing experts.
"We can expect that until Congress acts particularly to change mandatory minimum sentences, we will not be able to address the problems of overcrowding in federal prisons through clemency," said Jeremy Haile of The Sentencing Project, a Washington advocacy group. Haile said there are signs the Republican-led Senate may take up changes to the sentencing laws in January.
FOR THE RECORD
Dec. 17, 7:13 p.m.: An earlier version of this article misspelled the first name of Jeremy Haile.