Justice Dept dramatically expanding clemency use

    The Justice Department is asking lawyers around the country to help some prisoners prepare petitions for clemency.

    It’s a dramatic expansion of the president’s action last month to commute the sentences of eight people he said were serving unduly harsh drug sentences.

    Deputy Attorney General James Cole is speaking Thursday to the New York State Bar Association. He says in prepared remarks that there are more low-level, non-violent drug offenders who remain in prison, and who would likely have received a much lesser sentence if convicted of the same crimes today.

    Cole says the government is looking to bar associations to help potential candidates for clemency.

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