Obama Commutes Sentences of 8 Crack Offenders

President commuted the sentences of 8 crack cocaine defendants today and granted 11 pardons. Here is the list. Obama issued this statement about the crack commutations:

Three years ago, I signed the bipartisan Fair Sentencing Act, which dramatically narrowed the disparity between penalties for crack and powder cocaine offenses. This law began to right a decades-old injustice, but for thousands of inmates, it came too late. If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. 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.

Today, I am commuting the prison terms of eight men and women who were sentenced under an unfair system. Each of them has served more than 15 years in prison. In several cases, the sentencing judges expressed frustration that the law at the time did not allow them to issue punishments that more appropriately fit the crime.


Commuting the sentences of these eight Americans is an important step toward restoring fundamental ideals of justice and fairness. But it must not be the last. In the new year, lawmakers should act on the kinds of bipartisan sentencing reform measures already working their way through Congress. Together, we must ensure that our taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, and that our justice system keeps its basic promise of equal treatment for all.

I have nothing but praise for President Obama's actions. Is there more he can do despite a do-nothing Congress? Perhaps. Margy Love, Pardon Attorney under President Clinton has an idea:

Margaret Love, a pardon attorney under President Clinton and a lawyer for Aaron, said she was encouraged by the Obama's action, but she said a congressional vote to make the 2010 law apply to previously sentenced offenders "ain't going to happen."

She called on Obama to look at the problem of the thousands of crack offenders in prison "on a broader basis," perhaps considering an approach like that of former President Ford, who set up a clemency board to review the cases of alleged Vietnam-era draft evaders.

Or he could do what Illinois Governor Ryan did when he emptied Illinois' death row and commute the sentences of all of them.

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  • Display: Sort:
    A praiseworthy (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by lentinel on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 04:32:29 AM EST
    step by Mr. Obama indeed.

    The only part that curdles my blood somewhat is the phrase about the people incarcerated for 15 years having paid, "their debt to society".

    As a member of that society, presumably meaning as a citizen of the country that incarcerated them, I don't feel that they owed me a thing.

    There is no logic that I can feel in the prohibition of cocaine.
    I prefer, as a member of society, that it be legalized, and its quality controlled - the way that liquor is.

    It would be nice, as a member of society, to not have to worry about dodging the bullets of gang wars and the constant specter of police corruption.

    In the meantime, however, it is nice that those people who were so unfairly jailed will be freed. It is a good holiday gesture.

    A mere beginning, but a good gesture.

    Indeed... (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 08:19:48 AM EST
    anyone and everyone jailed for a non-violent drug "crime" owes no debt to society...in fact, it is society that owes a debt for deprived liberty to them.

    Kudos to Obama for the small installment payment of some of that debt...get cracking on pardoning/commuting everyone to get paid up in full.


    It is later (none / 0) (#8)
    by lentinel on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 05:55:25 PM EST
    in the day, and I no longer feel like extending any kudos or compliments to Mr. Obama for letting a handful of people out of jail after they have served 15 years for a cocaine-related offense.

    A push to end sentencing for these "offenses" would impress me, but simply pointing out the disparity, probably racist in nature, in sentencing for crack or powder is not a solution. Amnesty for all would impress me. But not this gesture which comes really late in the game.

    I am, of course, happy for the few who have been released and hope that they are able to rebuild their lives. But some financial compensation would be appropriate imo.


    Free Leonard Peltier, Mr. President!! (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Dadler on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 11:12:42 AM EST
    Dennis Rodman in N. Korea documentary (none / 0) (#4)
    by Dadler on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 11:14:34 AM EST
    And at the 26:50 mark, we see the uncle... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Dadler on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 11:22:30 AM EST
    ...whom his nephew had executed in the last few weeks. Creepy and, well, just creepy. Such is the life of a cult.

    Oops, wrong thread on this one (none / 0) (#6)
    by Dadler on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 11:23:41 AM EST
    Sorry, J, you can delete or move or whatever you have to do, if, of course, you have the time to notice. Peace.

    I thought perhaps our Pres. Should (4.00 / 4) (#7)
    by oculus on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 11:44:12 AM EST
    follow this example. Oh wait, he never evah sees his uncle.

    Makes me feel (none / 0) (#9)
    by Mikado Cat on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 02:33:14 AM EST
    cynical, but my first thought was how are these people attached to Obama politically. System needs reform, not gestures, or political payoffs.

    That's not "cynical" (none / 0) (#10)
    by Yman on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 07:27:46 AM EST
    Conspiratorial?  Sure.  Overly-imaginative?  Yep.  Wishful?  Likely.