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President Obama Issues Christmas Pardons

by Jean Ann Esselink on December 20, 2013

in Analysis,Jean Ann Esselink,News

Recent predictions from the Washington press say President Obama will begin to use executive authority to try to change the landscape of the country without having to wrangle with congress. Yesterday, he got off to a good start.

The White House announced Thursday, that President Obama has issued thirteen pardons and commuted eight sentences. Most of the men and women granted clemency are drug offenders sentenced under onerous laws with long mandatory sentences.

Eight of the prisoners whose sentences were commuted were serving sentences handed down before 2010, when the penalty for crack cocaine, more often used by black offenders, was one-hundred times longer than a sentence for the same amount of powder cocaine, more often used by whites. Congress tweaked the crack law in 2010, but the new sentences, now only eighteen times harsher than the powder cocaine penalty, have not been applied retroactively.

President Obama explained his decision:

“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. 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.”

There are two bills now before the Senate Judiciary Committee that would reduce mandatory minimums and restore a judge’s discretion when handing down drug sentences. President Obama encouraged congress to pass these needed reforms, saying:

“In the new year, lawmakers should act on the kinds of bipartisan sentencing reform measures already working their way through Congress.”

However, passing any bill mandating compassion does not seem likely in the Tea Party House.

Here is a list of yesterday’s pardons and commutations:

The President granted commutations to the following eight individuals:

  • 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 R. 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 (Oct. 8, 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 within 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, 10 years’ supervised release (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:  Time served after 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, conditioned on six months’ home confinement, 100 hours community service, $5,000 restitution, $1,000 fine (Nov. 18, 1996)
  • Little Joe Hatch, aka Joe Hatch Sr. – 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: 18 months’ imprisonment, 2 years’ supervised release (Oct. 2, 1992; amended May 21, 1993)
  • Alfred J. Mack – Manassas, Va. Offense: Unlawful distribution of heroin  (District of Columbia Superior Court) 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, formerly known as Kimberly Lynn Cooley – 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 (methamphetamine) (District of Nebraska) Sentence: Four years’ probation, conditioned on six months home confinement, 200 hours’ community service (Jun. 25, 1996)
  • Miles Thomas Wilson – Williamsburg, Ohio. Offense: Mail fraud (Southern District of Ohio) Sentence: Three years’ probation (Jul. 15, 1981)

Before yesterday, President Obama had commuted only one sentence,  making his rate for pardons and commutations the lowest of any president in modern history.

 

 

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{ 1 comment }

matt December 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm

awesome

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