Justice

Read the Letter the President Wrote to a Non-Violent Drug Offender

President Obama has commuted the sentences of 22 drug offenders serving long sentences in federal prison. He sent letters to the 22 inmates receiving clemency, and White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett tweeted a photo of the one sent to Terry Andre Barnes:

In the letter, the president told Barnes that life after prison "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...I believe in your ability to provide the doubters wrong."

In 1998, Barnes was sentenced to serve more than 20 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He'll now be released on July 28 of this year.

These commutations come as the president and his administration have highlighted the need to address outdated drug laws that are contributing to overcrowded prisons. The White House announced last year that it would begin commuting the sentences of non-violent drug offenders. Thousands of inmates have applied, and the government has turned towards non-profit organizations to help them sort through the cases. Two of the inmates granted clemency yesterday were aided by the Clemency Project 2014, reported Politico.

"Had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society," White House counsel Neil Eggleston said in a statement provided to The Huffington Post. "Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years -- in some cases more than a decade -- longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."

Last week, the president talked about the failures of drug laws in a conversation with David Simon, creator of HBO's The Wire, a show that explored the relationship between police and gang members in Baltimore.

"The challenge is folks go into prison at great expense to the state,"  the president said during the conversation. "[And] many times [are] trained to become more hardened criminals while in prison, come out and are basically unemployable and end up looping back in."

The president also said that the current system of incarceration is "breaking the bank."

So far, the president has been accused of stinginess when it comes to pardons and commutations, which are powers given to him by Article II of the Constitution. Up until today, he had only commuted the sentences of 21 people and pardoned only 64. While his commutations have been ahead of recent presidents, ProPublica reports, the president is behind Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan when it comes to pardons.

Here are the rest of the prisoners who received commutations yesterday:

• Theresa Brown – Pompano Beach, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine (Southern District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Mar. 29, 1995)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Donel Marcus Clark – Dallas, TX
Offense:  Conspiracy; use of a communication facility (five counts); distribution and/or possession of cocaine or manufacturing in or near a school facility, aiding and abetting (Northern District of Texas)
Sentence:  420 months’ imprisonment; four years’ supervised release (Nov. 12, 1993); amended to 360 months’ imprisonment (August 20, 2008)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Ricky Bernard Coggins – Tallahassee, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (Northern District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (May 3, 1993)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Samuel Pasqual Edmondson – Junction City, KS
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine (Eastern District of Texas)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Sep. 24, 1997)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Amado Garcia – Fresno, CA
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine; aiding and abetting the possession of methamphetamine; aiding and abetting the possession of heroin (District of Wyoming)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $2,000 fine (Nov. 29, 2001)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Dwight Anthony Goddard – Decatur, GA
Offense:  Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Middle District of Georgia)
Sentence:  235 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Feb. 7, 2002)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Lionel Ray Hairston – Ridgeway, VA
Offense:  Distribution of cocaine base (three counts) (Western District of Virginia)
Sentence:  262 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (May 27, 1999)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Francis Darrell Hayden – Loretto, KY
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 or more marijuana plants or 1,000 or more kilograms of marijuana; manufacture of 1,000 or more marijuana plants (Eastern District of Michigan)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Apr. 2, 2002)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Harold Kenneth Herring – Havana, FL
Offense:  Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Northern District of Florida)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jan. 22, 1998)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Tommie Lee Hollingshed – Memphis, TN
Offense:  Distribution of a controlled substance (two counts) (Western District of Tennessee)
Sentence:  324 months’ imprisonment; four years’ supervised release (May 1, 1996)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Derrick DeWayne Johnson – Birmingham, AL  
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine (Northern District of Alabama)
Sentence:  360 months’ imprisonment; four years’ supervised release (Nov. 18, 1998)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to a term of 262 months.

• Robert Martinez-Gil – San Antonio, TX
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin (Western District of Texas)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment (July 9, 1992)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• David Navejar – Brooksville, FL
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine (Middle District of Florida)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jan. 27, 2003)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Rudolph Norris – Washington, D.C.
Offense:  Unlawful distribution of cocaine base; unlawful possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base (District of Columbia)
Sentence:  360 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (Apr. 5, 1993)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Tracy Lynn Petty – Shelby, NC
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base (Western District of North Carolina)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Mar. 30, 2006); amended to 204 months’ imprisonment (February 25, 2008)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Luis Razo – Davenport, IA
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine (Southern District of Iowa)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jan. 3, 2003)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Antwon Rogers – Cleveland, OH
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 139.8 grams of cocaine base (Northern District of Ohio)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Jan. 30, 1995)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Herman Rosenboro –Kingsport, TN
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine and over 50 grams of cocaine base; distribution of a quantity of cocaine base (two counts); distribution of a quantity of cocaine (two counts)  (Eastern District of Tennessee)
Sentence:  Life imprisonment; six years’ supervised release (Dec. 3, 2001)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Lawrence Elmo Scott – Lynchburg, VA
Offense:  Distribution of crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school (Western District of Virginia)
Sentence:  283 months’ imprisonment; six years’ supervised release; $4,000 fine (Apr. 8, 2003)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Levar V. Wade – Chicago, IL
Offense:  Possession of 50 or more grams of crack cocaine with intent to distribute (Central District of Illinois)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (May 28, 2004)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.

• Eugene Winters – Cedar Rapids, IA
Offense:  Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base (Southern District of Iowa)
Sentence:  240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Feb. 23, 2005)
Commutation Grant:  Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.