Eight people who have been imprisoned for at least 15 years over non-violent crack cocaine offenses got welcome news from President Obama today: He's commuting their sentences, reports NBC News. The move is part of the Obama administration's push to correct what it sees as unfair federal drug laws, reports the New York Times. Among those affected today:
- Clarence Aaron: He got sentenced to three life sentences in 1993 in Mobile, Ala., at the age of 22 for taking part in a drug deal. It was his first offense. "He was just overcome," said his attorney today when she told him the news. ProPublica has more on his case.
- Stephanie George: The Florida woman got a life sentence in 1997 at age 27 because she hid her boyfriend's crack cocaine at her house.
- Reynolds Wintersmith: He got a life sentence in 1994 in Illinois because he got busted dealing crack at age 17.
“If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society,” said Obama. "Instead, because of a disparity in the law that is now recognized as unjust, they remain in prison, separated from their families and their communities, at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.”