"Alexander Williams, a former federal judge in Maryland, described how sentencing guidelines gave him no choice but to send Evans Ray Jr. to prison for life in 2007 for distributing crack cocaine. Williams later pushed for Ray to be granted clemency, which he was awarded in 2016."

The Biden administration's campaign pursued a number of efforts to address what systemic injustice and failings in the justice system that disproportionally affect people of color and the impoverished.

  1. The Justice Department sent a memo to the nation’s judges on Thursday that warned against imposing high fees and fines that would unfairly burden low-income people.

    “Imposing and enforcing fines and fees on individuals who cannot afford to pay them has been shown to cause profound harm,” officials wrote in the “Letter to Colleagues” memo this week, which warned that harsh financial penalties that trap people in poverty could be unconstitutional. 

    “Individuals confront escalating debt; face repeated, unnecessary incarceration for nonpayment of fines and fees; experience extended periods of probation and parole; are subjected to changes in immigration status; and lose their employment, driver’s license, voting rights, or home,” the memo said.

  2. A day later, top officials at the agency celebrated several people who have received pardons and clemencies in recent years, characterizing their long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes as harsh and unfair.

Judge Alexander Williams Jr. was highlighted in the Washington Post in his efforts to successfully push clemency to a man formally convicted and advocate against mandatory minimum sentences. Below quotes his thoughts and opinions surrounding the verdict provided to Ray in 2007. 

“It is my desire not to sentence you to life,” Judge Alexander Williams Jr. said in his Greenbelt, Md., courtroom, according to transcripts. “I believe that the circumstances justify a sentence shorter than life. I further believe that there is some disproportionality between what you’ve done and the sentence of life.”


Ray and Williams Embrace