On Friday, 95 victims of Nancy Reagan’s pet project, the “War on Drugs,” which began under the Nixon administration and was heavily supported by the conservative icon and her husband, received some good news: President Obama has continued his trend of commuting the sentences of nonviolent drug offenders who probably shouldn’t have been in prison in the first place.
On Friday, as part of his continuing effort to reduce prison overcrowding and give people who were sentenced under the harsh, draconian War on
Sanity Drugs, the President granted commutations to 95 nonviolent drug sentences — more than double the sentences he commuted earlier this year, and more than he has granted in all of the rest of 2015.
This is the third time this year that President Obama has used his clemency power to release drug prisoners — and “unprecedented” is a term that can be used to describe his free exercise of his authority with regard to victims of the War on Drugs –but, unfortunately, it hardly makes a dent in the prison population. The Washington Post reports:
The United States has less than five percent of the world’s population, but nearly a quarter of the world’s prison population. One in 100 adults is behind bars in America, according to the Coalition for Public Safety, a bipartisan criminal justice reform organization.
A White House spokeswoman said that Obama has surpassed the number of 88 commutations granted by the previous four presidents, Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush combined.
One of the released prisoners is Sharanda Jones, a 48-year-old Texas mother and first-time offender who was sentenced to life in prison for a single cocaine offense, placing her on par with Republican Congressman Trey Radel, who voted to drug test welfare recipients. Radel, of course, is not spending his life behind bars; he received a single year of probation when he was busted with cocaine. Because of her harsh sentence, Jones has missed 16 years of her daughter’s life, and has not seen her outside prison walls since she was eight-years-old.
The worst part? Jones was not the supplier or buyer. She just ‘knew a guy’ and acted as a middleman in a deal. Jones was hit with a series of “enhancements” — including her false classification as a leader in a drug ring. There were so many enhancements, in fact, that a federal judge had no choice but to sentence her to life in prison.
“The president literally saved her life today,” said Brittany Bryd, the attorney who filed Jones’ clemency petition.
The prisoners will certainly have a great Christmas after hearing their freedom is coming, but they won’t go home right away. The Post says that all inmates will first be sent to lower-security prisons, then to halfway houses where they will transition back into the outside world.
Featured image via screengrab