Can Jared Kushner’s Clemency Task Force #FreeAdam Clausen?
Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Guidelines were devastating for families like Ro Clausen‘s, whose husband received 213 Years under a since-voided application of U.S.C. § 924(c). 20 Years Later, can Jared Kushner’s Clemency Task Force #FreeAdam Clausen?
When I ask her about it, she recalls an emotional rollercoaster. 16 years into her husband Adam’s 213-year federal sentence for a string of armed robberies — in which no one was physically harmed — the Supreme Court issued a decision in Johnson v. The United States that struck down a portion of the federal Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) and re-defined the term “violent felony.”
The same year, Adam’s petition for clemency made it to the White House. He had proved himself to be a model inmate — a clean disciplinary record, speaking engagements at national conferences, a passion for teaching health and wellness. Together the couple epitomized #couplegoals with vulnerable and honest discussions they posted online about the realities of incarceration. CAN-DO listed Adam as one of the “Top 25 Men Most Deserving Clemency.”
If Adam had been sentenced in-state, or were sentenced today, he would likely have completed his time years ago— The First Step Act, signed into law by President Trump in 2018, softened mandatory stacking requirements under 924(c), the federal statute that determined Adam’s Kafka-esque existence. But the legislation isn’t retroactive and so the sentences Adam received remain in place, stacked atop one another like dominoes until the effect is sufficiently surreal.
Ro Clausen is the founder of Strong Prison Wives & Families, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to helping people navigate a loved one’s bid. Her YouTube channel can be found two clicks down an anxiety-driven rabbit hole and one glass of rosé short of a DOC-inspired breakdown, which is exactly how I found her the night I learned of a friend’s incarceration.