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November 21, 2011

President Obama commutes crack sentence and issues five more pardons

I am pleased to learn today of President Obama's decision to show some mercy via a real set of clemency grants to real people before the annual turkey pardons to save a couple fowl.  This AP article reports the basics:

President Barack Obama on Monday pardoned five people convicted of charges ranging from intent to distribute marijuana to running an illegal gambling business. And he issued his first commutation, ordering the release of a woman next month after serving 10 years on a 22-year sentence for cocaine distribution.

The actions mark Obama’s third set of pardons. He pardoned eight people earlier this year, and issued nine pardons in December 2010.

None of those pardoned was well-known, as was the case with the president’s previous orders. The cases date back to 1984, when Martin Kaprelian of Park Ridge, Ill., was sentenced to nine years in prison for conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce, and other related charges.

Obama commuted the 2001 prison sentence of Eugenia Marie Jennings of Alton, Ill. Jennings was convicted in 2001 for distributing cocaine, and sentenced to 22 years in prison. The president ordered her to be released next month, but kept intact her eight years of supervised release.

A press release from DOJ listing all the clemency recipients can be found at this link.  P.S. Ruckman has some effective commentary on this lastest round of clemency grants by President Obama in this post at his Pardon Power blog.  And FAMM has this new press release which provides some background on the defendant who had her prison term commutted:

In 2001, Jennings received a 22-year sentence for a low-level, nonviolent drug offense that involved selling a mere 13.9 grams of crack cocaine to a confidential police informant. Jennings was a survivor of domestic abuse and had a long-standing struggle with drug addiction.  She began selling small quantities of crack cocaine to support herself and her three children.

During her decade in federal prison, Jennings conquered her addiction, educated herself, and began speaking publicly to students, warning them of the consequences of drug use. Earlier this year, Jennings was diagnosed with cancer.  She has received chemotherapy treatments in prison and shows positive signs of an eventual recovery.

Jennings has a wide network of supporters and advocates, including Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), who learned of her case when her brother, Cedric Parker, testified before Congress. Senator Durbin and Jennings’s lawyers, Thomas Means, Alexander Schaefer and Timothy Foden of the Washington, DC law firm of Crowell & Moring, advocated tirelessly for her release.

November 21, 2011 at 10:22 PM | Permalink


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Eugenia Jennings was heavily supported by Senator Dick Durbin and FAMM and Kemba Smith (the young woman who President Clinton commuted and who was supported by Maxine Waters). She was also suffering from cancer, and I am happy to know that she will be released to possibly pursue alternative treatments. But for those persons who are still serving these draconian sentences and do not have the support of a member of Congress, especially someone as close to the President as Dick Durbin, what are their hopes of commutation?

Posted by: msyoung | Nov 22, 2011 9:49:20 AM

Marty Kaprelian, one of the pardonees, was a client in our offices in the 80s (pre Clinton and Biden inflation of the guidelines). How he, and not the Hundreds of first-time offenders languishing in federal prison, was awarded a pardon by the O is beyond me.

Posted by: FluffyRoss | Nov 22, 2011 3:54:06 PM

Duh! I forgot that Marty was from Park Ridge...and that there Rodham-Clintonian connection.

Posted by: FluffyRoss | Nov 22, 2011 5:48:29 PM

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