Help free Shakir Hamoodi, for his sake and ours

Once again, supporters and family of Dr. Shakir Hamoodi are mounting an effort to convince President Obama to commute his current 3-year jail sentence to time served, achieving his release and return to his family & business (past efforts have been ignored). Beyond our personal opinion of the matter, discussed in this piece from last year, this situation affects every member of the Chert Hollow Farm CSA and all those with an interest in the stability and success of our farm.

Nearly two-thirds of our farm’s weekly CSA shares are delivered to World Harvest, Dr. Hamoodi’s international grocery where they are stored in a large walk-in cooler for members to collect at their convenience during the store’s long daily hours. This arrangement provides significant benefits for everyone involved:

  1. The produce remains at a steady storage temperature and thus stays fresher, unlike shares awaiting pickup in an open-air setting like a farmers market.
  2. Members have far more leeway in picking up their shares as compared to needing to meet the farmer at a specified time.
  3. The farm is more efficient as we don’t have to spend precious hours holding pick-up hours at a drop-off point or at the farm.
  4. Both the store and members can benefit from this regular opportunity to compliment our fresh produce with other high-quality ingredients that aren’t produced locally.

Even members with home/work delivery benefit from this arrangement, as the greater efficiency provided by the World Harvest option helps keep our overall costs down and our focus on the farm rather than the deliveries. We can’t emphasize enough how beneficial it is to our weekly schedule & sanity NOT to have to spend 7-8 hours a week at the farmers market anymore; it’s that much more time and energy we can focus on growing the best food for you.  It is very important to us that this mutually beneficial arrangement is able to continue.

However, as long as Dr. Hamoodi remains in prison, the store can’t operate the same way as before. Many friends, family, and community members are working hard to keep the store open while he languishes in Leavenworth, but as we well know, the heart and soul of any small business is its owner(s). The deep knowledge and customer rapport that the founder & owner brings to an independent business is very hard to replace. We are quite grateful to those who have continued Dr. Hamoodi’s partnership with our farm, but there is no replacement for his presence back home in his store and with his family.

Please help us maintain and grow both these independent small businesses, which support the best in both local and international foods, by advocating for the release of Dr. Hamoodi. Surely over a year in Federal prison is punishment enough for an act of family charity, however technically illegal. And surely our society will be better off when Dr. Hamoodi can again earn his own living and support his family, rather than our tax dollars being wasted on his incarceration.

Below is information from the Shakir Hamoodi Support Group on ways you can help, whether you’re local or not:

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As of 8/28/13, Shakir Hammodi has been incarcerated at Leavenworth Federal Prison for 1 full year. We feel a renewed urgency to work together as a community in our efforts to gain Shakir’s release through Executive Clemency. Here’s how you can help in the next two weeks:

• Please write a personalized, 1-page letter to President Barack Obama. Use letterhead and titles as appropriate (link to template letter if desired). However, address the envelope to Ms. Kathryn Ruemmler, Obama’s White House Counsel:

TO: Ms. Kathryn Ruemmler,
White House Counsel to the President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

•Appeal to the President to use his unique Presidential clemency powers to “commute the sentence of Dr. Hamoodi to time served.”. Please include Dr. Shakir Hamoodi’s inmate number (21901-045) in your letter so it gets routed to the correct place.

• Become familiar with the following points, using those which are most comfortable for you and what you believe will be persuasive, in your letter:

1. You are adding your voice to Dr. Hamoodi’s original, extensive formal Appeal for Commutation of Sentence filed with the Office of the Pardon Attorney the day Shakir began his sentence. You support his claim that his action was only for humanitarian purposes, and believe his sentence was excessive, disproportionate.

2. Support for Shakir and his family remains strong in Columbia, the home community to which he has given so much positive leadership for almost three decades. The following pieces were written recently in support of clemency for Dr. Shakir Hamoodi.

• Sunday Op-Ed (9/1/13) Columbia Tribune by Owais Abdul-Kafi (Shakir’s oldest son), http://www.columbiatribune.com/opinion/oped/some-lessons-are-hard-to-understand/article_1b6e6bac-11d6-11e3-9106-10604b9f6eda.html

• Cathy Salter’s “Notes From Boomerang Creek” Columbia Tribune column 8/26/13 , http://www.columbiatribune.com/arts_life/community/difficult-times-only-strengthen-friendship/article_e743bbf2-0e79-11e3-88e8-10604b9f1ff4.html

• HJW III, editor of Columbia Daily Tribune, wrote a lead editorial urging clemency for Dr. Shakir Hamoodi, 8/28/13 , http://www.columbiatribune.com/opinion/the_tribunes_view/hamoodi/article_7bea986e-1002-11e3-9588-10604b9ffe60.html

3. Attorney General Eric Holder has initiated a review of sentencing practices, particularly concerning those convicted of nonviolent offenses, and also older prisoners. Dr. Shakir Hamoodi ideally fits both categories. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/12/eric-holder-smart-crime-reform-us-prisons

4. There is increasing public criticism of the President’s failure to fully and effectively use his unique Constitutional powers of Clemency. Most recently is the syndicated article by Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative journalist George Lardner Jr. showing a bewilderingly low number of pardons and commutations.
http://www.columbiatribune.com/opinion/oped/president-has-a-duty-to-use-pardon-power/article_000cb320-09c3-11e3-8934-10604b9ffe60.html

5. Earlier was a highly critical editorial in the New York Times about current clemency practice, particularly citing the unhelpful role of The Pardon Attorney. Immediate Executive action commuting Dr. Hamoodi’s sentence to time served would be an excellent way of restoring credibility and respect for the President on this issue.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/opinion/sunday/the-quality-of-mercy-strained.html?_r=1&

• Conclude it with a summary sentence urging Presidential commutation in the interest of Justice, compassion, and good public policy, helping the Hamoodi family and returning him to the community of Columbia. Include a CC: Sen. Claire McCaskill and your State’s Senators and Representatives (You can find their addresses online at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/)

•Mail CCs to: Office of Sen. Claire McCaskill
United States Senate
Hart Senate Office Building, Ste. 506
Washington, D.C. 20501

Office of Sen. Claire McCaskill
c/o Ms. Corey Dillon
4141 Pennsylvania Ave., Ste.101
Kansas City, MO 64111

• Send an email to (hamoodifamily@gmail.com) when you sent your letter, so we’ll know the likely impact of our renewed campaign. We want a strong wave of letters to arrive in mid-September. If you can have your letters postmarked by Monday, September 16, it would be great. Thank you in advance.

• Our grateful thanks….
—Shakir Hamoodi Support Group
September 3, 2013

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