Obama Grants Clemency for Drug Offenders Sentenced to Life in Prison

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Obama Grants Clemency for Drug Offenders Sentenced to Life in Prison

By Brent McCluskey 12/18/14

The move comes as part of the president's new initiative to reduce sentences for non-violent offenders.

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President Obama flexed his pardon powers Wednesday and commuted the prison sentences of four incarcerated drug offenders who were set to spend their remaining days behind bars.

The move comes as part of a new initiative to reduce prison sentences for non-violent offenders like Sidney Earl Johnson Jr., Ricky Marcell McCall, Larry Nailor, and Israel Abel Torres, who were all sentenced to life in prison for drug-related crimes they had committed years ago. Those men plus four others who were convicted of drug crimes will be released sometime next year.

The clemency initiative was announced last April and aims to commute the sentences of non-violent criminals and lower the general population of the already brimming prisons. 

All of the eight prisoners fit the bill for the clemency initiative. They have served at least 10 well-behaved years of their sentences and are “non-violent, low-level offenders who have no significant criminal history nor ties to gangs or organized crime,” said Deputy Attorney General James Cole.

While Obama’s clemency grants cut a significant amount of time the men have to spend in prison, Cole says they were originally “sentenced under outdated and unfair laws.”

Obama has commuted 18 additional sentences and has granted pardons to 12 people convicted of possessing an unregistered distilling apparatus, manufacturing marijuana, violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, and other charges.

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