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Articles by Katie Rose Quandt

Executive Inaction: States and Federal Government Fail to Use Commutations as a Release Mechanism

By Naila Awan and Katie Rose Quandt  

On April 26, 2022, President Joe Biden used his executive powers to commute the federal sentences of 75 people — a first step toward addressing his campaign promise to release some individuals “facing unduly long sentences.” While this action is promising and will be life-altering for each of the 75 individuals, it took nearly 100 days into his second year in office for Biden to act on his promise and grant clemency to a single person. What’s more, many of the people receiving commutations are already released on home confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all were convicted of “nonviolent” drug offenses.

If Biden intends to truly deliver on his promises to enact large-scale criminal justice reform, this set of commutations should merely mark the beginning of a broader initiative. In fact, nothing is holding him back: the President has the power to grant commutations to large categories of people in federal prisons independently — without any action by Congress, the Department of Justice, or another third party. Despite this broad power, most U.S. presidents in the era of mass incarceration have been hesitant to use their powers of commutation.

In 2021, ...

Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora” Left Out Torture and Abuse

The miniseries depicting a New York prison escape fails to show what happened to the men left behind.

by Katie Rose Quandt, The Appeal, a nonprofit criminal justice news site

The true story of a 2015 prison break from a New York maximum-security facility has electrified viewers of Showtime’s ...

Angola Prison Lawsuit Poses Question: What Kind of Medical Care do Prisoners Deserve?

by Amanda Aronczyk & Katie Rose Quandt, WNYC Radio

In 2005, Francis Brauner was a quarter of the way through a 20-year prison sentence at the Dixon Correctional Institute in Louisiana, when he had an accident.

Brauner was imprisoned for a rape conviction, which he maintains was wrongful and part ...

Why There’s an Even Larger Racial Disparity in Private Prisons Than in Public Ones

It’s well known that people of color are vastly overrepresented in U.S. prisons. African-Americans and Latinos constitute 30 percent of the U.S. population and 60 percent of its prisoners. But a new study by University of California-Berkeley researcher Christopher Petrella addresses a fact of equal concern. Once sentenced, people of ...