There are currently 18,000 people waiting for their clemency applications to be reviewed, but instead President Biden’s first grant went to…a turkey?!
Color of Change
November 24, 2021

Did you know there are currently 18,000 people waiting for their clemency applications to be reviewed, but instead President Biden’s first grant went to…a turkey?!

Among those waiting to hear about clemency are 4,000 people, the majority of whom are elderly or immunocompromised, currently finishing their sentences on home confinement after being heavily vetted by the Bureau of Prisons and released to curb the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.

We know it’s a silly tradition for the President to pardon turkeys on Thanksgiving Day, but our country doesn’t need silly outdated traditions. Especially not when there are thousands of people waiting to find out if they’ll ever get to spend the holidays with their families again. 


Almost everyone released has been successfully finishing their sentences, reconnecting with friends, taking care of family, getting jobs and enrolling in school despite the restrictive, challenging, and carceral terms of home confinement.

But because of a Trump-era legal memo that says they must return to prison whenever the pandemic recedes, their only recourse is for Biden to grant them clemency.

President Biden promised he’d cut the prison population in half and help put an end to racialized mass incarceration. And yet, when asked if he’d be pardoning any people in addition to turkeys this year at a press conference outside the White House, Biden responded in a joking manner: “just turkeys.”1

But this isn’t a joke. There are real lives and real people at stake!

And if Biden doesn’t grant them clemency, he may soon be presiding over the largest expansion of the federal prison population in history.


We have been working hard to move Biden toward granting clemency over the past year, and are making great progress.

In fact, the Administration has signaled willingness to grant clemency for people with non-violent drug offenses on home confinement.

But ALL of the individuals on home confinement need clemency now. Everyone in the program was already rigorously vetted by the Bureau of Prisons in order to be on home confinement in the first place. 

We can’t let Biden pick and choose who deserves to be at home with their families and who deserves to be locked up in a cage based on historically racist criteria.

If Biden is going to make a meaningful impact towards ending racialized mass incarceration, he needs to grant clemency to the 4,000+ people living on home confinement today.

This Thanksgiving, please join us to keep families together, get people home, and demand our President: 


Until Justice is Real,

Scott, Erika, Rashad, Arisha, Malachi, Megan, Ernie, Palika, Ariel, Madison, Trevor, Erick, Ana, Kristiana, McKayla and the Color Of Change team

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