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Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.



Thursday, December 19, 2013

President Obama Pardons Inmates

Today President Barack Obama granted clemency to twenty-one individuals, consisting of eight commutations and thirteen pardons.
 
Said the president, "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." 
 
Taking a look back on this year's most questionable criminal offenses (and non-sentences), we know the goal of 'equal treatment for all' has a long, long, long way to go.   Not just with drug offenses, but across the entire 'justice' spectrum.

Take the case of Montreal mayor, Rob Ford, the crack smoking, border line mental health candidate who was caught trying to buy cocaine - not even an arrest.   But when we look at DC Mayor Marion Berry, we have to ask the question:  Why isn't Ford in prison for doing the same thing?   UNEQUAL.

Ethan Couch, the young, wealthy teen who drives drunk and kills four people got off with being sentenced because of affluent lifestyle.  We've seen this Affluenza syndrome before, however:  the Bushes, the Cheneys, the Stallworths, while poor people who can't buy the best criminal attorneys receive maximum sentences for the same crime: murder.   UNEQUAL.

And let's not forget George Zimmerman, the wanna-be cop who terrorized communities before he actually went out and killed Trayvon Martin is STILL wreaking havoc (I think they call that a menace to society).   Odd that people say of murderers before they commit a massacre, "we knew he was bad news".  Well, don't we know this of George Zimmerman based on his antics even after the Trayvon Martin case? Yet he's still on the lose?   UNEQUAL
 
This article right here sums up the United States of America's unequal injustice system right here.  Read it and learn.
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Here's the 2013 list of granted commutations by the president:
 
·         Clarence Aaron - Mobile, Ala.
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute cocaine; attempt to possess cocaine with intent to distribute (Southern District of Alabama). Sentence:  Life imprisonment, five years' supervised release (Dec. 10, 1993). Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 17, 2014

·         Stephanie Yvette George - Pensacola, Fla.
Offense: Conspiracy to possess cocaine base with intent to distribute (Northern District of Florida) Sentence:  Life imprisonment, ten years' supervised release (May 5, 1997)
Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 17, 2014
 
·         Ezell Gilbert - Tampa, Fla.
Offense: Possession with intent to deliver cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute marijuana (Middle District of Florida)  Sentence:  292 months' imprisonment, five years' supervised release (Mar. 25, 1997)  Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to time already served.
 
·         Helen Alexander Gray - Ty Ty, Ga.
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute cocaine base; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (Middle District of Georgia)  Sentence:  240 months' imprisonment (Apr. 19, 1996)
Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 17, 2014
 
·         Jason Hernandez - McKinney, Tex.
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute controlled substances; possession with intent to distribute and distribute crack cocaine and methamphetamine; possession with intent to distribute a mixture of methamphetamine and cocaine hydrochloride; distribution of a controlled substance between 1,000 feet of a protected property; establishing a place for manufacture and distribution of controlled substances (Eastern District of Texas).  Sentence:  Life imprisonment; eight years' supervised release; $5,000 fine (Oct. 2, 1998).  Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to 240 months (20 years)
 
·         Ricky Eugene Patterson - Fort Pierce, Fla.
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Southern District of Florida)  Sentence: Life imprisonment (Aug. 3, 1995)
Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 17, 2014
 
·         Billy Ray Wheelock - Belton, Tex.
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine; possession with intent to distribute more than 5 grams of crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school; possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine (Western District of Texas)
Sentence: Life imprisonment, 10 years' supervised release, $3,000 fine (Jun. 9, 1993)
Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 17, 2014
 
·         Reynolds Allen Wintersmith, Jr. - Rockford, Ill.
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute cocaine and cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute crack (Northern District of Illinois)
Sentence: Life imprisonment, five years' supervised release, $1,000 fine (Nov. 23, 1994)
Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 17, 2014
 
The President granted pardons to the following thirteen individuals:
·         William Ricardo Alvarez - Marietta, Ga.
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin ; conspiracy to import heroin (District of Puerto Rico)  Sentence:  Nine months' imprisonment, four years' supervised release (Apr. 30, 1997; amended Jul. 31, 1997)

·         Charlie Lee Davis, Jr. - Wetumpka, Ala.
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base; use of a minor to distribute cocaine base (Middle District of Alabama). Sentence: 87 months' imprisonment, five years' supervised release (Mar. 21, 1995)
 
·         Ronald Eugene Greenwood - Crane, Mo.
Offense: Conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act  (District of South Dakota)
Sentence: Three years' probation, six months' home confinement, 100 hours community service, $5,000 restitution, $1,000 fine (Nov. 18, 1996)
 
·         Joe Hatch - Lake Placid, Fla.
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute marijuana  (Southern District of Florida)
Sentence: 60 months' imprisonment, four years' supervised release (May 15, 1990)
 
·         Martin Alan Hatcher. - Foley, Ala.
Offense: Distribution and possession with intent to distribute marijuana (Southern District of Alabama).  Sentence: Five years' probation (Nov. 9, 1992)
 
·         Derek James Laliberte - Auburn, Me.
Offense: Money laundering (District of Maine).  Sentence: 51 months' imprisonment subsequently reduced to 18 months due to substantial assistance, 2 years' supervised release (Oct. 2, 1992; amended May 21, 1993)
 
·         Alfred J. Mack - Manassas, Va.
Offense: Unlawful distribution of heroin  (District of Columbia).  Sentence: 18 to 54 months' imprisonment (Apr. 5, 1982)
 
·         Robert Andrew Schindler - Goshen, Va.
Offense: Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud (District of Utah)
Sentence: Three years' probation, four months' home confinement, $10,000 restitution (May 14, 1996)
 
·         Willie Shaw, Jr. - Myrtle Beach, S.C. Offense: Armed bank robbery (District of South Carolina) Sentence: Fifteen years' imprisonment (Aug. 7, 1974)
 
·         Kimberly Lynn Stout - Bassett, Va.
Offense: Bank embezzlement; false entries in the books of a lending institution (Western District of Virginia). Sentence: One day imprisonment, three years' supervised release (including five months home confinement) (Nov. 9, 1993)
 
·         Bernard Anthony Sutton, Jr. - Norfolk, Va.
Offense: Theft of personal property (Eastern District of Virginia)
Sentence: Three years' probation, $825 restitution, $500 fine (Apr. 4, 1989)
 
·         Chris Deann Switzer - Omaha, Neb.
Offense: Conspiracy to violate narcotics laws (District of Nebraska)
Sentence: Four years' probation, six months home confinement, drug and alcohol treatment, 200 hours' community service (Jun. 25, 1996)
 
·         Miles Thomas Wilson - Williamsburg, Ohio.
Offense: Mail fraud (Southern District of Ohio)
Sentence: Three years' imprisonment (suspended), three years' supervised release (Jul. 15, 1981)

Related
 

President Obama Signs the Fair Sentencing Act:

 

 
S. 1789, the “Fair Sentencing Act of 2010,” which reduces the disparity in the amounts of powder cocaine and crack cocaine required for the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences; eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine; and increases monetary penalties for major drug traffickers.
 
 
 
 

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