Sen. Cory A. Booker on Thursday announced that if elected to the White House, he would immediately move to start the clemency process for about 17,000 nonviolent drug offenders, in what his presidential campaign billed as “the most sweeping clemency initiative in more than 150 years.”

The New Jersey Democrat said the “War on Drugs” has been a “war on people” that disproportionately affected people of color and lower-income individuals.

“When it comes to restoring justice, we can’t be timid,” he said. “Granting clemency won’t repair all the damage that has been done by the War on Drugs and our broken criminal justice system, but it will help our country confront this injustice and begin to heal.”

The plan calls for immediate clemency consideration for people serving time for primarily marijuana-related offenses, people whose sentences would have been cut under newly reduced minimum sentencing rules, and people incarcerated for “excessive sentences” because of disparities in how crack and powder cocaine are treated.

The campaign estimated that about 17,000 people, and as many as 20,000 people, would be “immediately” eligible for clemency.

Mr. Booker’s plan would also create an “executive clemency panel” at the White House and calls for a federal council to make recommendations to help people granted clemency find jobs and other benefits.

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