Stetson students respond to President Obama’s new clemency initiative

The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced a new clemency initiative, designed to prioritize clemency applications for certain non-violent offenders who would likely receive lesser sentences if they were sentenced today. To date, more than 35 Stetson Law students have signed on to assist the Office of the Federal Defender for the Middle District of Florida in identifying former clients who may qualify for the new clemency initiative. The Stetson Law students will help gather information relevant to the clemency criteria as part of a new pro bono project on campus.gavel_scale_blue

“I had heard about this on the news and was ecstatic, but didn’t imagine Stetson students would have the opportunity to help,” said student Kathryn Hamilton, who signed on to assist the pro bono project.

“I am interested in the clemency project because it is such a rare and unique opportunity to apply some of the skills I have learned in law school for a cause that can drastically change people’s lives,” said student Kevin Lonzo.

Donna Elm, the Federal Defender for the Middle District of Florida, stated, “We are delighted to expand our internship program to include students working pro bono on this important project. The students will be instrumental in helping us collect the information we need to assess which former clients may be eligible for relief under the new clemency initiative.”

Stetson Law professors Ellen Podgor, Judith Scully, James Sheehan and Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law Bruce Jacob are spearheading the pro bono project with the Federal Defender’s Office.

“This is an exciting project that will be ongoing, allowing students to learn more about federal criminal law while assisting the Federal Defender’s Office in the Middle District of Florida,” said Professor Podgor, the Gary R. Trombley Family White-Collar Crime Research Professor at Stetson Law.