The meeting was begun by President Terry Carlson who rang the bell at 12:30.
 
Greeter: Jeff Norton who led the Pledge of Allegiance
 
Invocation:  Melanie Mogg
 
Terry Carlson gave us a brief review of the weekend 5960 Mid-Year Meeting, which just happened this past weekend at the Radisson in Roseville.
 
Dan Wall Announced the Ramsey County Library Gala and encouraged our support and attendance.
 
Deb Nygaard promoted the Jeff Norton Concert to support the Teacher Exchange program with Sri Lanka.
 
Dave Gilberstadt gave us an update on his trip to Sri Lanka with Ted Johnson and working on the Teacher Exchange Program.
 
Hyon Kim made a statement supporting the value of American Forces in South Korea where they do keep the peace!
 
Eric Hylok, Terry Carlson
 
Loren Swanson Introduced Eric Hylok of the Clemency Project which is a joint venture between New York University and the University of St. Thomas in the Twin Cities.
 
Eric began by differentiating between Clemency Vs Pardon:  Clemency is Reducing the penalty for some one who is guilty and a Pardon is Forgiveness of the Crime, taking the offender back to the point where it is as if the crime did not happen.
 
There are 13 steps to go through the Clemency Process, (Mostly Committees).  Any one member of any of the committees has veto power and the application will die.  If any member asks a question that is not answered the application goes back to the previous committee and to the previous one etc. until the question is answered and then it moves forward again.  The analogy used is a giant game of “Chutes and Ladders.”
 
Eric stated that, “We are not the innocence project, we are the guilty project”  All our clients are guilty and simply sentenced to terms that are unfairly long!  The ones who get clemency are the ones believed to be able to re-enter society as a person who can contribute to the benefits of our society.
 
This is primarily focused on the harsh penalties meted out in the 1970’s and 1980’s for use and distribution of crack cocaine.  Some people received life sentences for possession of small amounts of Crack.
 
This is a time sensitive issue and the funding for this project runs out in August of 2016.  Right now they have a backlog of about 10,000 cases to process with the knowledge that with the 7.5 people they have working on this program this goal will never be met and there will be people who are deserving of clemency and their cries will not be heard. 
 
The deadline is January 2017 when President Obama leaves office.  Then is it a crap shoot as to what the next president will do with this issue.
 
The presentation was intentionally short leaving much time for questions.  There were significant and well reasoned questions right up to the time limit!  Throughout the presentation Eric kept the pace fast which is how I know him to work.  In addition to this it was very clear in his voice and his judicious choice of words that he truly has a passion for this project and wants desperately to get as many of those 10,000 files processed before time runs out.  Eric was asked questions about things outside of his preview and he simply said, “I don’t know the answer to that and do not have the time to find out.”  Thank you Eric for giving us a glimpse into your world!
 
 
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