President Obama granted clemency to 102 non-violent drug offenders last Thursday. The clemency appeal is essentially a request for a re-sentencing based on modern punishments. Obama has continually made this a top priority by commuting the sentences of 774 federal inmates since taking office. This is more than the previous 11 presidents combined. The article mentions Ricky Minor, 53, who was serving a life sentence for attempting to manufacture meth. By today’s standards his punishment would be far less severe. Many advocates of clemency say these types of federal inmates have very low rates of returning to jail and often become successful members of society.
I think many of us assume that inside a prison is pretty similar to the State of Nature, in which actions are governed by our right to do whatever it takes to benefit ourselves. In class we said that acting within a set of norms is the rational thing to do. Under Social Contract Theory we give up some freedoms for the benefit of security. Before going behind bars, some of these felons may have been living in a way similar to the State of Nature. They are doing whatever they have to in order to benefit themselves(manufacturing meth). Mr. Minor is a great example of Social Contract Theory. While in prison, he finished a GED and learned basic business and accounting skills. This is his way of showing he is ready to rejoin society. He won’t live the life of a criminal anymore and understands he has to follow the social contracts enforced by the government, in order to provide for himself and his family.