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November 22, 2011

Back story on crack offender who received Obama's first commutation

As reported in this post late last night, nearly three full years into his presidency, Barack Obama issued his first commutation to a federal defendant serving time in prison.   This report by Josh Gerstein at Politico provides a little of the defendant's back story along with some commentary about the grant: 

The White House announced Monday that Obama commuted the nearly 22-year prison sentence of Eugenia Jennings, 34, a mother of three from Alton, Ill. who pled guilty in 2000 to selling 13.9 grams of crack cocaine to a police informant.  She received the two-decades-plus prison term because she had two prior state drug sale convictions.

In testimony before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee in 2009 [which can be accessed here thanks to FAMM], Jennings's brother Cedric Parker said her sister was a drug addict, alcohol abuser and victim of sexual assault, who was trying to provide for her children. Parker also said Jennings, who is black, would have gotten half as much prison time if she was convicted of dealing in powdered cocaine rather than the crack form....

[F]ormer Justice Department pardon Attorney Margaret Love ... welcomed the news of Obama's first commutation. "I'm very pleased," Love said. "I hope that it is a sign he intends to look at the many other people in federal prisons serving very long crack sentences which his own administration has called unjust."

FAMM's statement said that the commutation for Jennings was backed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and that Jennings is receiving treatment for cancer.  She is currently at a federal prison medical facility in Fort Worth, Texas, according to the Bureau of Prisons web site. It is unclear how, if at all, Jennings's illness affected Obama's decision to grant the commutation.  White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said he could not comment on specific cases.

Love said the president's grant of a single commutation after 34 months in office was hard to interpret.  "His exercise really does appear to be a bit random, like a lightning strike," she said.

Prior to the commutation, Jennings was due to be released in June 2019, the BOP site indicates.

November 22, 2011 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

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Comments

ahh now we know the real reason!

"FAMM's statement said that the commutation for Jennings was backed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and that Jennings is receiving treatment for cancer."

Medical treatment is BEYOND expensive now.

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 22, 2011 1:14:44 PM

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