President Obama, working to limit extreme drug penalties handed out before the current law, commuted the sentences of eight nonviolent crack cocaine offenders. Of the group, six were serving life sentences for their offenses.
The commutations were the first to happen retroactively for the inmates, who all would have received significantly shorter sentences after the passing of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. President Obama and his administration have been working on ways to limit the taxpayer burden in operating prisons and to bring equality back to the justice system.
President Obama issued a statement regarding the commutations, addressing the aforementioned law and its aims of ending the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences. dealers
From The White House:
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.
President Obama is calling on Congress to focus on sentence reform in a bid to lower the reckless spending of taxpayer dollars. There is currently a bipartisan bill that would make the Fair Sentencing Act retroactive for some offenders and allow their cases to be reviewed for a lower sentence.
Of the inmates, Clarence Aaron has served the longest after being slapped with three life sentences in 1993 at the age of 22. Ironically, Aaron may have been freed sooner under the Bush administration if not for a reportedly botched review process. Stephanie George received a life sentence in 1997 for stashing crack at her home for a boyfriend.
Both Aaron and George will be freed in April. The other inmates will be released in 120 days or so.