Man Turns Down Obama's Offer to Get Out of Prison

Arnold Jones would rather stay longer in prison than enter drug treatment
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2016 3:14 PM CDT
Prisoner Declines Obama's Offer of Clemency
President Obama has commuted the sentences of 775 prisoners. One of them turned him down.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Arnold Jones was one of more than 29,000 drug offenders who asked President Obama to commute their sentence. But when he was granted executive clemency in August, he turned it down. USA Today delved into the unusual story when it noticed the White House listed only 774 commuted sentences under Obama when it should have been 775. The sticking point for Jones: enrollment in a mandatory residential drug program that's been a condition of nearly 100 of Obama's commutation grants. The requirement would have required Jones—the first person to refuse clemency based on it—to be separated from the general prison population for nine months while undergoing four hours of therapy every day.

Jones is currently in a low-security federal prison in Texas. He was sentenced for drug trafficking in 2002 and has six years left on his sentence. But if he gets good behavior, he'll only be stuck in prison for eight months longer than if he had accepted Obama's clemency and enrolled in the treatment program. Records show Jones used crack weekly before he was arrested and that he hasn't had success with drug treatment programs in the past. When USA Today spoke to Jones' mother this week, she was still excited about the president commuting her son's sentence. She didn't know he had turned it down. Read the full story here. (More clemency stories.)

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