NPR logo White House Announces Commutations For 46 Mostly Nonviolent Offenders

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White House Announces Commutations For 46 Mostly Nonviolent Offenders

Updated at 1:11 p.m. ET

President Obama has commuted the sentences of 46 mostly nonviolent drug offenders, nearly all of whom, the White House says, would have already served their time if they were convicted of the same crime today.

"I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around," Obama said in a letter to each of the 46 men and women. "Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. Perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances.

"But remember that you have the capacity to make good choices."

In a note on the White House blog accompanying the announcement, Neil Eggleston, counsel to the president, noted:

"[F]ederal sentencing practices can, in too many instances, lead nonviolent drug offenders to spend decades, if not life, in prison. Now, don't get me wrong, many people are justly punished for causing harm and perpetuating violence in our communities. But, in some cases, the punishment required by law far exceeded the offense.

"These unduly harsh sentences are one of the reasons the President is committed to using all the tools at his disposal to remedy unfairness in our criminal justice system."

Obama has now issued nearly 90 commutations, mostly to nonviolent drug offenders.

NPR's Carrie Johnson tells our Newscast unit the White House will focus this week on sentencing reform. It is expected to be a topic Tuesday when Obama addresses the NAACP's annual conference in Philadelphia, and on Thursday when he visits a federal prison in Oklahoma.

Carrie adds that most of those whose sentences were commuted Monday faced at least 20 years behind bars; 14 of them had been prepared to spend the rest of the lives incarcerated, Obama said.

"I believe that at its heart America is a nation of second chances," Obama said in a video address. "And I believe that these folks deserve their second chance."

BREAKING: President Obama just granted clemency to 46 men and women whose sentences didn't fit their crimes. Nearly all of these individuals would have already served their time and returned to society if they were convicted of the exact same crime today: http://go.wh.gov/KtwU7f

Posted by The White House on Monday, July 13, 2015

"Last year, the president asked the Justice Department to develop criteria for identifying and recommending for executive clemency those nonviolent, low-level offenders who received harsh sentences they would not receive if sentenced today," Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement. "The president's decision to commute the sentences of 46 more individuals today is another sign of our commitment to correcting these inequities.

"We will continue to recommend to the President appropriate candidates for clemency, and we will continue to work with Congress on recalibrating our sentencing laws for non-violent drug offenders."

Last year the president commuted the sentences of eight people. Here are the 46 people whose sentences Obama commuted Monday:

  • Jerry Allen Bailey — Charlotte, N.C.

Offense: Conspiracy to violate narcotics laws (crack) (Western District of North Carolina)

Sentence: 360 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (April 2, 1996)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Shauna Barry-Scott — Youngstown, Ohio

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Northern District of Ohio)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Oct. 18, 2005)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Larry Darnell Belcher — Martinsville, Va.

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute marijuana (Western District of Virginia)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Dec. 15, 1997)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • John L. Houston Brower — Carthage, N.C.

Offense: Distributed cocaine base ("crack") (Middle District of North Carolina)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (June 22, 2002)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Nathaniel Brown — Orange Park, Fla.

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine (more than 5 kilograms) and cocaine base (more than 50 grams); distribution of cocaine base (two counts) (Middle District of Florida)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Aug. 1, 2002)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Norman O'Neal Brown — Hyattsville, Md.

Offense: Distribute quantity of mixture or substance containing a detectable amount cocaine base (crack), aiding and abetting (five counts); possess with intent to distribute quantity of mixture or substance containing detectable amount of cocaine base (crack), aiding and abetting (District of Maryland)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Jan. 15, 1993)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Joseph Burgos — Chicago

Offense: Distribution of cocaine; use of a communication facility in the commission of a felony (Northern District of Illinois)

Sentence: 360 months' imprisonment; eight years' supervised release; $200,000 fine (Sept. 2, 1993)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Clarance Callies — San Antonio

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute in excess of 50 grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base ("crack cocaine"); possession with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base ("crack cocaine") (Western District of Texas)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; eight years' supervised release (March 25, 2002)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Anthony Leon Carroll — Tampa, Fla.

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Middle District of Florida)

Sentence: 262 months' imprisonment; five years' supervised release (Sept. 3, 1999)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Juan Diego Castro — Laredo, Texas

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute a quantity in excess of 5 kilograms of cocaine (Southern District of Texas)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Feb. 1, 2002)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Joe Louis Champion — Houston

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 376.9 grams of cocaine base (crack); aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute 376.9 grams of cocaine base (crack) (Southern District of Texas)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release; $4,000 fine (June 19, 1997)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015, and the remaining balance of the fine remitted

  • Cedric Culpepper — Orlando, Fla.

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute 5 grams or more of cocaine base (Middle District of Florida)

Sentence: 188 months' imprisonment; four years' supervised release (Nov. 15, 2004)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Walter R. Dennie — Gary, Ind.

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine (two counts) (Middle District of Florida)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (April 25, 2002)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Steven D. Donovan — Oak Creek, Wis.

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; interstate travel to promote distribution of cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine (Eastern District of Wisconsin)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Oct. 16, 1992)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Romain Dukes — Chicago

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, "crack"; distribution of cocaine base, "crack" (two counts) (Southern District of Iowa)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Oct. 1, 1997)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Tony Lynn Hollis — Knoxville, Tenn.

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute 26.5 grams of cocaine base (Eastern District of Tennessee)

Sentence: 262 months' imprisonment; eight years' supervised release (June 8, 2001)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Alex William Jackson — Mineral, Va.

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base (Western District of Virginia)

Sentence: 262 months' imprisonment; 60 months' supervised release (Dec. 22, 1999); amended to 240 months' imprisonment (June 25, 2008)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Jackie Johnson — Townsend, Del.

Offense: Possession with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of a cocaine base (District of Delaware)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Jan. 30, 2007)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Jerome Wayne Johnson — Fort White, Fla.

Offense: 1. Cultivation of marijuana plants (Middle District of Florida)

2. Conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 marijuana plants (Northern District of Florida)

Sentence: 1. 60 months' imprisonment; five years' supervised release (June 25, 2003)

2. 20 years' imprisonment, concurrent to sentence imposed above; 10 years' supervised release (May 27, 2004)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Willie C. Johnson — Steele, Mo.

Offense: The defendant did knowingly conspire to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine base; the defendant did knowingly distribute cocaine base; the defendant did knowingly possess with the intent to distribute cocaine base (Eastern District of Missouri)

Sentence: 360 months' imprisonment; five years' supervised release (Feb. 18, 2005); amended to 168 months' imprisonment (Feb. 12, 2015)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Mark Anthony Jones — Boynton Beach, Fla.

Offense: Distribution of cocaine base (Northern District of Florida)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (July 28, 1999)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Roy Larry Lee — St. Petersburg, Fla.

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (enhanced penalty); distribution of 50 grams or more of cocaine base (two counts) (Middle District of Florida)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (May 3, 1990)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Kenneth Lorenzo Lewis — Charlottesville, Va.

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base (Western District of Virginia)

Sentence: 262 months' imprisonment; five years' supervised release (Nov. 17, 2000)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Douglas M. Lindsay II — Newberry, S.C.

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine and cocaine base (District of South Carolina)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; five years' supervised release (Dec. 20, 1996); amended to 293 months' imprisonment (March 4, 2015)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Kevin Matthews — James Island, S.C.

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (District of South Carolina)

Sentence: 232 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Feb. 11, 2004)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Marlon McNealy — St. Petersburg, Fla.

Offense: Conspiracy to commit racketeering (two counts); conspiracy to distribute cocaine base; knowingly and intentionally distributing 50 grams or more of cocaine base (three counts) (Middle District of Florida)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Aug. 18, 1993)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Brian Nickles — New Orleans

Offense: Distribution of more than 50 grams of cocaine base (two counts) (Eastern District of Louisiana)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (April 28, 2004)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Jermaine Lee Osborne — Roanoke, Va.

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of cocaine base (Western District of Virginia)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (May 2, 2006)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Marcus H. Richards — Miami

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and more than 50 grams of cocaine base (Northern District of Florida)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (June 13, 2005)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Patrick Roberts — Detroit

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute controlled substances (Eastern District of Michigan)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (July 8, 1999)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Bryant Keith Shelton — Kissimmee, Fla.

Offense: Distribution of cocaine base (Middle District of Florida)

Sentence: 188 months' imprisonment; five years' supervised release (April 1, 2003)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Ezekiel Simpson — St. Louis

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Eastern District of Missouri)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Feb. 3, 2005)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Katrina Stuckey Smith — Montrose, Ga.

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base (Middle District of Georgia)

Sentence: 292 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (July 20, 2000); amended to 240 months' imprisonment (April 2, 2008)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • James Marion Stockton – Martinsville, Va.

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute more than 5 grams of cocaine base; possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Western District of Virginia)

Sentence: 420 months' imprisonment; eight years' supervised release (May 27, 2003)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire Nov. 10, 2015

  • Bart Stover — Ashland, Ohio

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana and cocaine; use of a communication facility to facilitate the commission of drug trafficking offense, aiding and abetting (Northern District of Ohio)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (April 12, 2005)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Robert Earl Thomas Jr. — Houston

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance (Eastern District of Texas)

Sentence: 262 months' imprisonment; five years' supervised release (June 29, 1999)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Bruce Todd — Atlanta

Offense: Distribution of at least 50 grams of crack cocaine (Northern District of Georgia)

Sentence: 262 months' imprisonment; five years' supervised release (March 3, 2003)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Jeffery Jerome Toler — Pensacola, Fla.

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base (Northern District of Florida)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (June 13, 1996)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Donald Vanderhorst — Charleston, S.C.

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and 50 grams or more of cocaine base (District of South Carolina)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (March 15, 2006)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • James Nathan Walton — Thibodeaux, La.

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Western District of Louisiana)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Sept. 16, 2004)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Telisha Rachette Watkins — Charlotte, N.C.

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base (Western District of North Carolina)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; eight years' supervised release (Oct. 25, 2007)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Dunning Wells — Fort Myers, Fla.

Offense: Unlawful possession of a firearm; distribution of a quantity of cocaine; possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime (Middle District of Florida)

Sentence: 502 months' imprisonment; six years' supervised release (Feb. 20, 1992)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Kimberly A. Westmoreland — Columbus, Ohio

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute in excess of 50 grams of cocaine base; carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime (Southern District of Ohio)

Sentence: 180 months' imprisonment; five years' supervised release (Jan. 21, 2004)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • James Rufus Woods — Leasburg, N.C.

Offense: Possess with intent to distribute cocaine base ("crack") (Middle District of North Carolina)

Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release (Nov. 23, 1998)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • John M. Wyatt — Las Cruces, N.M.

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute marijuana (Southern District of Illinois)

Sentence: 262 months' imprisonment; eight years' supervised release; $500 fine (Aug. 30, 2004)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

  • Robert Joe Young — Joppa, Ala.

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine; possession with the intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine; use of a firearm during and in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; possession with the intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing cocaine; carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime; endeavoring to influence and impede the administration of justice (Northern District of Alabama)

Sentence: 240 months' imprisonment; five years' supervised release (Dec. 16, 2002)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Nov. 10, 2015

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