president obama on thursday commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates throughout the united states. all eight were convicted of non-violent crimes involving crack cocaine. each inmate spent more than 15 years in prison.
at the time of the convictions, mandatory sentencing laws required severe punishment for drug offenders who possessed, sold or used crack cocaine. however, the sentencing guidelines for drug offenses involving powder cocaine were far less oppressive.
in 2010, obama signed the fair sentencing act, which lessened the punishment for crimes involving crack cocaine. the new guidelines made sentencing similar for both forms of the drug. after the laws changed, numerous inmates remained incarcerated with long sentences for their previous crimes.
as reported by cnn, obama commuted the eight drug offenders' sentences as they were "unduly harsh and issued outdated sentencing regime." obama also said releasing the inmates is "an important step toward restoring fundamental ideals of justice and fairness."
a bi-partisan bill introduced by senators richard j. durbin and mike lee allows for the release of inmates sentenced before the fair sentencing act was signed. if the bill passes, the law would provide inmates with an opportunity to have their cases reviewed for early release.
the new york times reports families against mandatory minimums estimates nearly nine million inmates will qualify for early review if the bill gets legalized. under current law, the inmates would have been released years ago, saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars. the president's actions foster an urgency to relax sentencing guidelines filling u.s. prisons with non-violent offenders.
the bureau of prisons was given 120 days to release the six men and two women. one inmate was sentenced to 20 years, another was sentenced to 24 years. four were sentenced to life, one was sentenced to life at age 17 and another was sentenced to three life terms at age 22. obama's bold and compassion decision gives each inmate an opportunity to reunite with their families and become productive members of society.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.