Obama Commutes Sentences Of 46 Non-Violent Offenders

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UPDATE: July 13, 2015, 3:08 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama cut the prison sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders on Monday, including 14 who were sentenced to life in prison, saying “their punishments didn’t fit the crime.”

“These men and women were not hardened criminals,” Obama said in a video released by the White House, noting that the overwhelming majority of the 46 had been sentenced to at least 20 years.

The move was part of a broader ongoing effort by the administration to make the U.S. criminal justice system fairer. Obama has now issued 89 commutations during his presidency, most of them to non-violent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing guidelines. A commutation leaves the conviction in place, but reduces the punishment.

Obama wrote a personal letter to each of the 46 individuals to notify them of their commutations. Their sentences all now expire on Nov. 10, 2015.

In a letter to Jerry Bailey, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for conspiracy to violate laws against crack-cocaine, Obama praised Bailey for showing the potential to turn his life around.

“Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity,” Obama wrote in the letter, which was sent to Bailey’s address at a federal correctional facility in Georgia,. “It will not be easy,” Obama said, “and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change.”

Obama’s lawyer, White House counsel Neil Eggleston, predicted the president would issue even more commutation sbefore leaving office in early 2017. But he also said that Obama’s powers to fix the problem were limited, adding that “clemency alone will not fix decades of overly punitive sentencing policies.”

Obama this week is devoting considerable attention to the criminal justice system. He plans to lay out ideas for how to improve the fairness of the system during a speech to the NAACP in Philadelphia on Tuesday. And on Thursday, he is to become the first sitting president to visit a federal prison when he goes to the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution outside of Oklahoma City. While there, he will meet with law enforcement officials and inmates.

Obama said that after his commutations, there is still “a lot more we can do to restore the sense of fairness at the heart of our justice system.”

Julie Stewart, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a group seeking changes in sentencing, said the organization was “thrilled to see that more folks serving excessively long sentences for non-violent drug offenses are going home.”

“But they’re leaving behind many equally deserving people,” she said, “so let’s keep these commutations coming, while remembering that clemency is a tool made necessary by our failure to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Congress simply can’t act fast enough.”

The 46 sentence reductions announced Monday are the most presidential commutations in a single day since the Lyndon Johnson administration in the 1960s. Obama has commuted the sentences of 89 people, surpassing the combined number of commutations granted by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

Read Obama’s letter sent to each of the 46 individuals receiving a commutation:

Here’s the full list of individuals who received commutations:

Jerry Allen Bailey – Charlotte, NC

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

Sentence: 360 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Apr. 2, 1996)

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

Shauna Barry-Scott – Youngstown, OH

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 November 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 November 10, 2015.

John L. Houston Brower – Carthage, NC

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 November 10, 2015.

Nathaniel Brown – Orange Park, FL

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine (more than five 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 November 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 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 November 10, 2015.

Joseph Burgos – Chicago, IL

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 November 10, 2015.

Clarance Callies – San Antonio, TX

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; 8 years’ supervised release (Mar. 25, 2002)

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

Anthony Leon Carroll – Tampa, FL

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

Sentence: 262 months’ imprisonment; 5 years’ supervised release (Sept. 3, 1999)

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

Juan Diego Castro – Laredo, TX

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute a quantity in excess of five 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 November 10, 2015.

Joe Louis Champion – Houston, TX

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 November 10, 2015, and the remaining balance of the fine remitted.

Cedric Culpepper – Orlando, FL

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

Sentence: 188 months’ imprisonment; 4 years’ supervised release (Nov. 15, 2004)

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

Walter R. Dennie – Gary, IN

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

Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Apr. 25, 2002)

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

Steven D. Donovan – Oak Creek, WI

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 November 10, 2015.

Romain Dukes – Chicago, IL

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 November 10, 2015.

Tony Lynn Hollis – Knoxville, TN

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 November 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 November 10, 2015.

Jackie Johnson – Townsend, DE

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 November 10, 2015.

Jerome Wayne Johnson – Fort White, FL

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, 5 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 November 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 November 10, 2015.

Mark Anthony Jones – Boynton Beach, FL

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 November 10, 2015.

Roy Larry Lee – St. Petersburg, FL

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 November 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 November 10, 2015.

Douglas M. Lindsay, II – Newberry, SC

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 (Mar. 4, 2015)

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

Kevin Matthews – James Island, SC

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 November 10, 2015.

Marlon McNealy – St. Petersburg, FL

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 November 10, 2015.

Brian Nickles – New Orleans, LA

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

Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Apr. 28, 2004)

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

Marcus H. Richards – Miami, FL

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than five 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 November 10, 2015.

Patrick Roberts – Detroit, MI

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 November 10, 2015.

Bryant Keith Shelton – Kissimmee, FL

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

Sentence: 188 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Apr. 1, 2003)

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

Ezekiel Simpson – St. Louis, MO

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 November 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 (Apr. 2, 2008).

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

James Marion Stockton – Martinsville, VA

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute more than five 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 November 10, 2015.

Bart Stover – Ashland, OH

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 (Apr. 12, 2005)

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

Robert Earl Thomas, Jr. – Houston, TX

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 November 10, 2015.

Bruce Todd – Atlanta, GA

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

Sentence: 262 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Mar. 3, 2003)

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

Jeffery Jerome Toler – Pensacola, FL

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 November 10, 2015.

Donald Vanderhorst – Charleston, SC

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of five 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 (Mar. 15, 2006)

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

Telisha Rachette Watkins – Charlotte, NC

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 November 10, 2015.

Dunning Wells – Fort Myers, FL

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 November 10, 2015.

Kimberly A. Westmoreland – Columbus, OH

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 November 10, 2015.

James Rufus Woods – Leasburg, NC

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 November 10, 2015.

John M. Wyatt – Las Cruces, NM

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 November 10, 2015.

Robert Joe Young – Joppa, AL

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; 5 years’ supervised release (Dec. 16, 2002)

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

Watch Obama’s video message announcing the commutations:

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

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