Big news today in the campaign to free Chelsea Manning as President Obama has commuted the vast remainder of Manning’s sentence. According to the New York Times, Manning is slated to be released on May 17th, five months from today.
During Manning’s time at Fort Leavenworth prison, she had been subject to various inhumane and cruel imprisonment practices, including being held to standards not befitting her status as a transgender woman. Specifically, she was denied treatment and medication, was held to male grooming standards, and was housed in the male section of the prison. Because of such treatment, she had attempted to take her own life twice, which landed her in solitary confinement on both occasions.
Manning was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison, an unprecedented punishment for someone who leaked government documents. She had thrown herself on the mercy of the court by pleading guilty, acknowledging her actions, and has constantly shown remorse for them. For her sins, however, the judge threw the book at her, and gave her the maximum possible sentence.
Obama’s decision to commute Manning’s sentence certainly came at just the right time. As we’ve said before, this petition to have her freed has felt like the last glimmer of hope for her, given the fact that the incoming administration has made it clear as day that they intend to infringe upon and otherwise eliminate the rights of trans people everywhere. The injustices she had faced during her time in prison would otherwise go unseen if her petition had lapsed beyond the January 20th inauguration of President-elect Trump.
It’s hard to not feel like some amount of justice has been served in this decision; granted, Manning’s leak may have compromised or otherwise brought harm to American forces overseas, but her actions helped shed light on so many other atrocities within the Iraq war. And once again, the treatment she had endured at the hands of the Department of Justice and U.S. Army can really only be described as cruel, unusual, and inhumane.
President Obama’s legacy certainly has its share of warts, but still: it is good to see that he the right thing here.
(image via torbakhopper/Flickr)
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