Barack Obama uses his presidential pardon to commute the sentences of eight federal inmates who were serving harsh sentences for drug-related crimes.
According to reports, the individuals, who have each served over 15 years in prison, were convicted of crack cocaine offenses. In a statement, the President said they were sentenced under an “unfair system.”
“If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society,” he said of offenders sentenced before the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the government’s mandatory penalties for crack offenses. “Instead, because of a disparity in the law that is now recognized as unjust, they remain in prison, separated from their families and their communities, at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.”
He added, the commutation “is an important step toward restoring fundamental ideals of justice and fairness,” reiterating his administration’s goal of cutting down the cost of lengthy incarcerations for non-violent crimes.
Obama also pardoned 13 other inmates. Their crimes included drug offenses, money laundering and theft.
According to a White House release, the commutations were granted to Clarence Aaron, of Mobile, Ala.; Stephanie Yvette George, of Pensacola, Fla.; Ezell Gilbert, of Tampa, Fla.; Helen Alexander Gray, of Ty Ty, Ga.; Jason Hernandez, of McKinney, Texas; Rickey Eugene Patterson, of Fort Pierce, Fla.; Billy Ray Wheelock, of Belton, Texas; and Reynolds Allen Wintersmith Jr., of Rockford, Ill.
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