IT’S THE INJUSTICE FOR ME: A BLACK JUSTICE LAWYER QUITS
By: Tammy Allison, Esq.
PHOTO BY JOHNSON PRICE @JPRICEPHOTO
I lasted an entire decade. I don’t even know how. The injustices that I experienced personally and those that I observed through the application of the policies and procedures applied to U.S. citizens and non-citizens, were problematic to say the least. As a senior attorney with the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ), I served under the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations. No matter the administration, the racial injustices were consistently the same.
The injustice is why I have decided to resign from federal service to focus on what I believe is the forgotten aspect of criminal justice reform, federal executive clemency.
In my 10 years as an attorney at USDOJ, there was never any discussion with any of the components where I worked surrounding how to best approach racial injustice, even when very prominent new stories where impossible to avoid — Troy Davis, Sandra Bland, George Floyd, Ahmad Arbrey, Breonna Taylor, or countless other unarmed black people losing their lives unjustly.
While the Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA), settled my racial discrimination lawsuit over 3 years ago, I made it a priority to address racial bias when I believed it impacted the mission of USDOJ.
I realized that my efforts to address racial injustice were better served in the private sector given my extensive experience with all phases of the criminal justice system. From prosecuting cases at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C., to identifying legal issues within BOP, to evaluating petitions at OPA, I knew that I needed to step up my efforts in addressing — federal executive clemency. The forgotten aspect of criminal justice reform.
Federal executive clemency is the method in which a President forgives an incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individual through a commutation or a pardon. The conviction will remain as federal executive clemency is not an expungement, but certain civil disabilities will be restored, most popular for those seeking a pardon is the right to possess a firearm since it’s the only way to go about legally carrying a gun after being convicted of a federal crime.
Attention is necessary in this area of criminal justice as the general public, and even USDOJ attorneys not at OPA do not fully understand the process. A thorough review and change of the petition is necessary as many of the requirements do not take into consideration the racial biases inherently contained in the probative questions presented.
I believe the problem can begin to be addressed by assisting the economically disadvantaged (typically minorities and immigrants) in presenting the strongest petition for evaluation to be recommended favorably to the President.
As the first black owned expert executive clemency law firm, The Pardon Attorney™, by Attorney Tammy Allison, PLLC, will address this forgotten component of criminal justice reform.