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Is Granting Clemency To 22 Convicted Drug Dealers The Best Use Of Obama's Time?

As anyone who has followed our coverage of the great American student debt bubble knows, President Obama has been in a forgiving mood lately what with The White House’s move to contemplate more efficient bankruptcy procedures that may allow for the discharge of tens or even hundreds of millions in student debt all courtesy of the US taxpayer. As it turns out,  the same spirit of compassion, leniency, and a blatant disregard for personal responsibility and accountability applies to another group of Americans: crack dealers. 

At issue is whether it’s “fair” to keep criminals imprisoned when sentencing guidelines have changed since their convictions. In other words, had they just waited to get themselves caught, they would have gotten off a lot easier and given that, it’s high time someone in Washington set things right for them.

Setting aside the sarcasm for a moment, there probably is something to the idea that if the justice system was handing out sentences that were grossly incommensurate with the crimes they were meant to punish, then some folks are likely owed an apology and probably much more and allowing former students to discharge debt is obviously not entirely comparable to letting criminals out of prison. Our only question is whether the best use of the President’s time is granting clemency to nearly two dozen convicted drug dealers. View the details below and decide for yourself:

Here’s more via The White House:

Building on his commitment to address instances of unfairness in sentencing, President Obama granted 22 commutations today to individuals serving time in federal prison. Had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years — in some cases more than a decade — longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime.

 

In total, the 22 commutations granted today underscore the President’s commitment to using all the tools at his disposal to bring greater fairness and equity to our justice system. Further, they demonstrate how exercising this important authority can remedy imbalances and rectify errors in sentencing. Added to his prior 21 commutations, the President has now granted 43 commutations total. To put President Obama’s actions in context, President George W. Bush commuted 11 sentences in his eight years in office.


* * *

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Barack Obama granted commutations of sentence to the following 22 individuals:


• Terry Andre Barnes – East Moline, IL Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base; supervised release violation (distribution of cocaine base) (Southern District of Iowa) Sentence:  246 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (July 25, 2005) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015. 


• Theresa Brown – Pompano Beach, FL Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine (Southern District of Florida) Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Mar. 29, 1995) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015. 


• Donel Marcus Clark – Dallas, TX Offense:  Conspiracy; use of a communication facility (five counts); distribution and/or possession of cocaine or manufacturing in or near a school facility, aiding and abetting (Northern District of Texas) Sentence:  420 months’ imprisonment; four years’ supervised release (Nov. 12, 1993); amended to 360 months’ imprisonment (August 20, 2008) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Ricky Bernard Coggins – Tallahassee, FL Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (Northern District of Florida) Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (May 3, 1993) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Samuel Pasqual Edmondson – Junction City, KS Offense:  Conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine (Eastern District of Texas) Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Sep. 24, 1997) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Amado Garcia – Fresno, CA  Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine; aiding and abetting the possession of methamphetamine; aiding and abetting the possession of heroin (District of Wyoming) Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $2,000 fine (Nov. 29, 2001) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Dwight Anthony Goddard – Decatur, GA Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Middle District of Georgia) Sentence:  235 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Feb. 7, 2002) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Lionel Ray Hairston – Ridgeway, VA Offense:  Distribution of cocaine base (three counts) (Western District of Virginia) Sentence:  262 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (May 27, 1999) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Francis Darrell Hayden – Loretto, KY Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 or more marijuana plants or 1,000 or more kilograms of marijuana; manufacture of 1,000 or more marijuana plants (Eastern District of Michigan) Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Apr. 2, 2002) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Harold Kenneth Herring – Havana, FL Offense:  Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Northern District of Florida) Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jan. 22, 1998) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Tommie Lee Hollingshed – Memphis, TN Offense:  Distribution of a controlled substance (two counts) (Western District of Tennessee) Sentence:  324 months’ imprisonment; four years’ supervised release (May 1, 1996) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Derrick DeWayne Johnson – Birmingham, AL Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine (Northern District of Alabama) Sentence:  360 months’ imprisonment; four years’ supervised release (Nov. 18, 1998) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to a term of 262 months.


• Robert Martinez-Gil – San Antonio, TX Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin (Western District of Texas) Sentence:  Life imprisonment (July 9, 1992) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• David Navejar – Brooksville, FL Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine (Middle District of Florida) Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jan. 27, 2003) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Rudolph Norris – Washington, D.C. Offense:  Unlawful distribution of cocaine base; unlawful possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base (District of Columbia) Sentence:  360 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (Apr. 5, 1993) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Tracy Lynn Petty – Shelby, NC Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base (Western District of North Carolina) Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Mar. 30, 2006); amended to 204 months’ imprisonment (February 25, 2008) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Luis Razo – Davenport, IA Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine (Southern District of Iowa) Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jan. 3, 2003) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015. 


• Antwon Rogers – Cleveland, OH Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 139.8 grams of cocaine base (Northern District of Ohio) Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jan. 30, 1995) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Herman Rosenboro –Kingsport, TN Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine and over 50 grams of cocaine base; distribution of a quantity of cocaine base (two counts); distribution of a quantity of cocaine (two counts)  (Eastern District of Tennessee) Sentence:  Life imprisonment; six years’ supervised release (Dec. 3, 2001) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Lawrence Elmo Scott – Lynchburg, VA Offense: Distribution of crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school (Western District of Virginia) Sentence:  283 months’ imprisonment; six years’ supervised release; $4,000 fine (Apr. 8, 2003) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.


• Levar V. Wade – Chicago, IL Offense:  Possession of 50 or more grams of crack cocaine with intent to distribute (Central District of Illinois) Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (May 28, 2004) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015. 


• Eugene Winters – Cedar Rapids, IA Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base (Southern District of Iowa) Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Feb. 23, 2005) Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

 

And for those wondering what the geographic distribution of the forgiven looks like: 

(click the maps for interactive versions via Washington Post)