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Commuted Sentences: The Impact and Harsh Reality

Commuted Sentences: The Impact and Harsh Reality

Can you imagine getting 20 years to life prison sentence for playing a small role in a drug crime? There are hundreds of individuals who are currently living with long prison sentences for non-violent crimes.  Can you imagine getting a call telling you that your sentence has been “commuted?”

Commuted Sentences

Commutation is an executive power that is used at the President’s discretion that can be used to reduce prison sentences. The legislation nor the judicial branch can interfere with or override this power. It is a form of clemency that reduces the punishment for a crime. Typically, it has can come in the form of a reduced prison sentences, but it can also be reduced court fees.

How Commuted Sentences Differ From Pardons

To be commuted for a crime falls under the pardoning power, however, it is different from a pardon. The differences are significant.

When a person is pardoned they are forgiven for their crime. In the case of a commuted sentence, the sentenced is reduced. That includes all civil rights involved as well. That means that the convicted, while being commuted and getting their sentence reduced, still has to live as a convicted offender and lose all the civil rights that falls under that conviction.

Prisoners can receive a commuted sentence as a reward for good behavior. However, another key reason that prisoners are commuted is to reduce an unreasonably harsh sentences or to address a judge’s refusal to give a prisoner.

Obama and Commuted Sentences

President Obama has used his executive power to commute 306 inmates to date. That is more than the past 7 presidents combined. He just recently commuted 58 inmates in an ongoing initiative to release federal prisoners who have received severe mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offense. Out of the 306 inmates that he as commuted, 110 of those individuals were serving life sentences.

The Impact on Inmates

Obama started this clemency initiative two years ago. Since then, thousands of inmates have applied. Right now, there are more than 9,000 petitions that are pending. Obama plans to continue to grant clemency for the duration of his time in office.

The stories of each individual that receives commuted sentences are powerful. Obama stated, “Each of their stories were extraordinary.”

One inmate that was granted clemency was a man named Fulton “Wash” Washington. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. According to the Washington Post, when Washington was being sentenced, even his judge had “lamented that harsh mandatory minimum sentences were not meant for offenders like Washington.” He had been sent to life in prison without parole. At the time, he had a son who was 10-years-old and a daughter who was 31.

Washington’s attorney, James E Felman, was able to call Washington’s daughter to tell her and Washington that he would be coming home. According to the Washington Post, “His daughter broke down and started screaming and crying with hysteria.”

In addition, Dorothy Gaines is another inmate that President Obama commuted. You can read about her story at The Dorothy Gaines Story.

Washington’s and Gaines’ stories are just two stories from the hundreds of individuals who have been commuted by Obama’s initiate.

Seeking Help

In conclusion, if you or a loved one is serving an unjust sentence, we want to help you experience the joy that Fulton Washington’s family is experiencing.

Our goal is that no one will have to face an unjust harsh sentence. If you are facing a conviction, seek an experience attorney. No one should have to experience a harsh punishment for a crime that doesn’t fit the bill. Please call today:

248-348-7400 or 586-530-1000

This article was published on: July 6, 2016 and was last modified July 6, 2016