Nearly three years into his Oval Office tenure, President Barack Obama issued his first commutation to a woman who has served 10 years of a 22-year sentence for cocaine distribution.
On Monday, the White House announced that Obama commuted the sentence of Eugenia Marie Jennings, a 34-year-old mother of three from Alton, Ill., who pled guilty in 2000 to selling 13.9 grams of crack cocaine to a police informant. Due to two prior state drug sale convictions, she was sentenced to 22 years.
Jennings is set to be released next month, but the president kept intact her eight years of supervised release. Obama also pardoned five other people convicted of charges ranging from intent to distribute marijuana to running an illegal gambling business. The actions mark Obama's third set of pardons, CBS News reported. Earlier this year he pardoned eight people, and in December 2010 issued nine pardons.
Eugenia Jennings's 22-year sentence for her nonviolent offense was overkill, Julia Stewart of Families Against Mandatory Minimums said in a Monday night statement. Today, President Obama rights that wrong and we are grateful to him. We urge the President to continue exercising his clemency power and grant more commutations to the many deserving federal prisoners, like Eugenia, who have paid a hefty price for their mistakes and deserve a second chance.
Jennings was represented by three lawyers with the Washington law firm of Cromwell & Moring. None of whom could be reached for comment Tuesday. Jennings is said to be receiving treatment for cancer at a Fort Worth, Texas, medical facility within the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Another advocate for greater presidential use of the clemency power, former Justice Department pardon Attorney Margaret Love, also welcomed the news of Obama's first commutation, Politico reported.
I'm very pleased, Love said. I hope that it is a sign he intends to look at the many other people in federal prison serving very long crack sentences which his own administration has called unjust.
Gill said Jennings benefited from her tenacious legal team, the support of her family, and backing by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Obama ordered that Jennings be released on Dec. 21.
Others who received pardons:
- Lesley Claywood Berry Jr. of Loretto, Ky., sentenced in 1988 to three years in prison for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana.
- Dennis George Bulin of Wesley Chapel, Fla., sentenced in 1987 to five years of probation and a $20,000 fine for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 pounds of marijuana.
- Ricky Dale Collett of Annville, Ky., sentenced in 2002 to one year of probation for aiding and abetting in the manufacture of 61 marijuana plants.
- Thomas Paul Ledford of Jonesborough, Tenn., sentenced in 1995 to one year of probation for conducting and directing an illegal gambling business.