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Biden issues first pardons and prison commutations of presidency

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WASHINGTON — President Biden on Tuesday issued three pardons and 75 prison sentence commutations in his first grants of clemency since taking office.

All of the commutations and two of the three pardons went to people convicted of federal drug offenses.

“Today, I am pardoning three people who have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation and are striving every day to give back and contribute to their communities,” Biden said in a statement.

“I am also commuting the sentences of 75 people who are serving long sentences for non-violent drug offenses, many of whom have been serving on home confinement during the COVID-pandemic — and many of whom would have received a lower sentence if they were charged with the same offense today, thanks to the bipartisan First Step Act.”

Biden pardoned former Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden, 87, who was sentenced to six years in prison in 1964 for bribery. He was the first black man assigned to a presidential protective detail.

Biden also pardoned Houston resident Betty Jo Bogans, 51, who received a seven-year prison sentence in 1998 for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, and Georgia resident Dexter Jackson, 52, who pleaded guilty in 2002 to allowing pot dealers to use his property. Jackson runs a phone repair firm.

Fifty-eight of the 75 sentence commutations are set to take effect in 2023, with most of those recipients technically under house arrest until then.

Abraham Bolden, 29, a suspended U.S. secret service agent is shown with his wife in corridor of the Federal building here before he was indicted.
Biden pardoned former Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden, who was sentenced to six years in prison in 1964 for bribery.
Bettmann Archive

A White House official told The Post that the decision to delay the effective date for many cases was consistent with the practice of some prior administrations. He added that “these grants, which shorten the sentences of non-violent drug offenders, will make a meaningful impact on the individuals’ lives.”

“President Biden has issued more sentence commutations at this early point in his presidency than any of his last five predecessors at the same point in their first terms,” the official said. “President Biden has moved quickly in order to express his deep commitment to reform our justice system, address racial disparities, and provide second chances to individuals who are working hard to turn their lives around.  At the same time, this is just the first tranche. The President and his team will continue reviewing petitions from non-violent drug offenders for additional grants of clemency.”

Biden is responsible for some of the nation’s harshest drug laws, but he pivoted ahead of the 2020 campaign to support criminal justice reform. He even said he wanted to free “everyone” in prison for marijuana.

Just five people jailed exclusively for marijuana are getting a sentence commutation and some of them will spend more time behind bars.

Jose Colunga of Nebraska, who got a 20-year sentence in 2010 for dealing marijuana, will now be released in October 2023, according to a White House fact sheet — rather than his estimated 2027 release date. Texas resident Fermin Serna, who got a 20-year sentence, will have his prison term expire in August 2022, rather than in 2030.

A front loader picks up a massive amount of pot.
There are roughly 2,700 federal inmates incarcerated for marijuana.
AP/Idaho State Journal,Doug Lindley

Stacie Demers of Constable, New York, and Carry Le of Georgia — who got 10-year sentences in 2016 for pot dealing — will be on house arrest for a year, as will Quang Nguyen of Houston, who got a 10-year pot sentence in 2017.

There are roughly 2,700 federal marijuana inmates and many high-profile cases didn’t make the cut.

It was not immediately clear what role outside lobbying played in the clemency grants.

An administration official told reporters on a Monday evening call that “the Department of Justice makes recommendations to the president and the president considers those recommendations,” which would be a break from the Trump era, when clemency advocacy groups and influential people routinely won over the president.

Former US President Donald Trump speaks during a Save America rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Delaware, Ohio, USA, 23 April 2022.
On his last day as president, Donald Trump released two prisoners serving life without parole for marijuana under a three-strikes policy expanded by Biden..
EPA/DAVID MAXWELL

The official said Biden “understands that too many people are serving very long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes and so he’s using his clemency power as a way to try and address that.”

Biden advocated for and authored extremely tough penalties for drug crimes in the 1980s and ’90s. He lobbied for a since-repealed 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack cocaine, which was more commonly used by blacks, and powder cocaine. And Biden’s 1994 law included $12.5 billion in grants to encourage states to adopt “truth in sentencing” laws that required inmates to serve most of their sentence.

Many drug dealers also got federal life sentences under the three-strikes policy expanded by Biden’s 1994 crime law. Former President Donald Trump on his final day in office released two prisoners serving life without parole for marijuana under that rule.

closeup on handcuffs.
Biden’s 1994 law gave drug dealers federal life sentences under the three-strikes policy.
Getty Images

Whether Biden’s 1994 law contributed to the “mass incarceration” of minorities — including sending the black prison population skyward — was a matter of heated debate during the 2020 election.

New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice found the law “helped fuel a prison construction boom” and that “while some states had already started to enact tougher sentencing laws, the legislation rewarded states for those decisions, providing powerful incentives for others to adopt them.”

The total number of prisoners in the US increased from fewer than 1.6 million in 1995 to more than 2 million in 2002.

In a fiery Senate speech, Biden said in 1994, “Every time Richard Nixon, when he was running in 1972, would say, ‘Law and order,’ the Democratic match or response was, ‘Law and order with justice’ — whatever that meant. And I would say, ‘Lock the S.O.B.s up.’”

Cornel West, philosopher, author, activist, and professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard speaks at the W.E.B Du Bois Medal Ceremony at Harvard's Sanders Theater in Cambridge, MA on Oct. 22, 2019.
Cornel West said Biden is responsible for mass incarceration as a result of his 1994 crime law.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

Even some Biden supporters slammed his record during the presidential campaign.

Left-wing activist and philosopher Cornel West, who begrudgingly supported Biden in 2020, said in an interview, “When [Biden] says [the 1994 law] didn’t contribute to mass incarceration, I tell him he has to get off his symbolic crack pipe.”

Radio host Charlamange Tha God recounted during a TV interview, “When [Biden] was on the Breakfast Club, another part of that interview that people miss is that I asked him about the ’94 crime bill, and the ’94 crime bill being the catalyst for mass incarceration in this country. And he said it wasn’t the crime bill, it was the ’86 mandatory minimum sentencing. But I’m like, ‘Joe, you wrote that too.’ “

Alice Johnson holds a full pardon signed by President Donald Trump, in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, in Washington.
Alice Johnson was serving a life sentence until she was released from prison by Trump.
AP/Evan Vucci

The 1986 Biden law led to a life sentence for Alice Johnson, the prominent former prisoner and advocate released from prison by Trump at the urging of Kim Kardashian.

Trump sought to make inroads among black voters during the 2020 election by campaigning on his First Step Act, which curbed some Biden policies, including lowering the penalty for a third strike to 25 years in prison.

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What Time Will ‘Riverdale’ Season 6 Be on Netflix?

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The season finale of Riverdale aired in late July on The CW. Notice we said season finale? Thankfully, the beloved series will return for a seventh season, but, unfortunately, Season 7 will be the final installment of Riverdale.

If you already streamed the current season, make sure to read Alex Zalben’s interview with Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on Decider. If you’re waiting to binge Season 6 on Netflix, well, you better clear your calendar because all 22 episodes are about to drop on the streamer. What time will the sixth season of Riverdale debut on Netflix? What time does Netflix release shows? Here’s everything you need to know.

WHEN IS THE RIVERDALE SEASON 6 NETFLIX RELEASE DATE?

Riverdale Season 6 premieres Sunday, August 7 on Netflix.

HOW MANY EPISODES ARE IN RIVERDALE SEASON 6?

The sixth season of Riverdale consists of 22 episodes.

WHAT TIME DOES NETFLIX RELEASE NEW SHOWS?

Netflix releases new episodes at 3:00 a.m. ET/12:00 a.m. PT.

WHAT TIME WILL RIVERDALE SEASON 6 BE ON NETFLIX?

Netflix is based out of California, so Riverdale Season 6 will be available to stream at 12:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (3:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time) beginning Sunday, August 7. If the clock strikes 12:00 (or 3:00 a.m. for folks on the East Coast) and you don’t see the new episodes, give it a moment, hit refresh, and then enjoy the show!

WILL THERE BE A SEASON 7 OF RIVERDALE?

Yes! Decider recently covered that very topic.

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Actress Anne Heche Suffers Severe Burns After Crashing Car Into Los Angeles Home

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Actress Anne Heche, known for her roles in such films as Donnie Brasco, Volcano and I Know What You Did Last Summer, was involved in a fiery car crash in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles on Friday.

According to TMZ, Heche was driving a blue Mini Cooper and had first crashed into the garage of an apartment complex. Residents of the apartment complex tried to get her out of the vehicle but she backed up and sped off.

Footage of Heche speeding down the streets of her neighborhood had been obtained by TMZ as well as her initial encounter at the apartment complex.

In the first clip, you can hear her car crash towards the end. It has been reported that the actress crashed into someone’s home, causing her vehicle and the house to erupt into flames. Heche suffered severe burns and was resisting being taken away in a stretcher. You can also view footage of this via the TMZ article.

It has not been confirmed whether alcohol has been involved in the incident since her condition prevents doctors from performing any tests to determine if she was driving under the influence. She is currently intubated in the hospital but expected to live.

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These are the vulgar license-plate requests the DMV has rejected

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Stay CL4SSY, New York!

The state Department of Motor Vehicles nixed 3,752 requests for vanity license plates in the last three years because it deemed them too raunchy, radical or simply ridiculous.

New York’s personalized plates go for $60 initially, and then $31.25 annually for renewal. You can get any plate as long as no one else has it and it’s not offensive.

Odds are a request for a plate that marks a wedding anniversary or shows your allegiance to a team — like METS86 — will pass muster with the DMV gatekeepers.

Vulgarity won’t get you to first base.

So plates with the phrase LFGM — the acronym for Pete Alonso’s “Let’s F–king Go Mets” rallying cry — did not make the cut.

And you won’t see anyone driving around with the custom plates MILFDAD, AS5M4N and WLHUNG.

Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
New York DMV
NYC123
New York state Department of Motor Vehicles denied more than 3.5 thousand requests for license plates deemed inappropriate.
New York DMV
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
New York DMV

The DMV also put NICEBUNS, FATFANNY, GOTAPOOP and BENDOVER in the rear-view mirror.

One player unsuccessfully tried to score the plate YESDADDY, to no avail.

The DMV also shot down such dark requests as DEADGIRL, GENOC1DE, S8TAN, DETONATE and MURDERM3.

“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
New York DMV
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
New York DMV
BOOBIE is prohibited.
BOOBIE is prohibited.
New York DMV

Getting political is a dead end too — FJOEBIDN, FDTRUMP and CNNLIES were nixed.

LUDEDUDE, NARCO, GOT METH and BLUNT also went up in smoke.

Staten Island attorney Bill Dertinger said his blue 1995 Jaguar SJS was tagged with ESQLTD after his company and his 2014 Porsche had the plate GHOSTGTS because the sleek sportscar was white.

“The plates can make you stand out — which can be a curse or a blessing,” the 54-year-old Dertinger said. “Make sure you don’t cut anybody off.”

A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
New York DMV
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
New York DMV
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
New York DMV

There must be a New York Jets fan playing referee at the DMV because a request for the seemingly innocent plate GASE was sidelined. Ex-Jets head coach Adam Gase had an offensive 9-23 win-loss record during his forgettable two-year tenure.

The DMV would not reveal who gives the final yea or nay.

“The DMV reviews all custom license plate requests and works hard to ensure that any combinations that may be considered objectionable are rejected,” said agency spokesman Tim O’Brien.

“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
New York DMV
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
New York DMV

He said guidelines on what plate combinations are restricted can be found on the DMV website: https://dmv.ny.gov/learn-about-personalized-plates. Approximately 50,000 personalized and custom plates are sold per year, O’Brien said.

Bagged Tags

The state DMV has rejected 3,752 requests for custom license plates in the last three years because it deemed them potentially offensive. Here are some:

YESDADDY

FJOEBIDN

FDTRUMP

GLOCKS

FLYMOFO

BOOBIE

AS5M4N

BUDLIGHT

DEADGIRL

SUM8ITCH

GENOC1DE

S8TAN

CNNLIES

DETONATE

MURDERM3

MILFDAD

WLHUNG

Source: NYS DMV

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