Your Black News reports:
President Barack Obama seems to be growing a bit of a backbone in recent weeks. In a gutsy move last Monday, he pardoned five people, including Eugenia Marie Jennings of Alton, Illinois who was sentenced to over two decades for possession with intent to distribute 13.9 grams of crack cocaine.
She’ll be released next month with over half of her original sentence remaining.
She was a 23-year-old mother of three when she was convicted. In 2008, she made an unsuccessful bid to get her sentence reduced, telling the judge that she had “made incredible efforts toward change to rehabilitate herself and become a productive citizen amongst others.” According to the Huffington Post, “she quit smoking, underwent drug treatment, earned a diploma in a professional electrician program, held down a job in a prison call center, and kept close ties with her children.”
P.S. Ruckman, pardon expert, calls the unexpected move the “first bold act of executive clemency” stating:
“Obama has maintained the stingy clemency tradition of recent administrations. Last December his pardons included a man who’d mutilated coins in the 1960s and a man who’d stolen plywood and nails from a construction site. In May, Obama pardoned eight people whose offenses ranged from running drugs to descrambling satellite TV signals. The mostly minor offenses happened long ago and the offenders had already served their time. A pardon restores a convict’s civil rights but doesn’t clear his or her record.
Which is why commuting a 22-year sentence — for possession with intent to distribute 13.9 grams of crack — is “a big-time decision,” Ruckman said. He noted that half of Obama’s pardons have involved drug offenses and that the latest round involved relatively recent cases.”
Though. Obama has steered clear from softening his stance on the criminalization of drug use, maybe we’re finally seeing a shift in the political tone as it pertains to non-violent offenders --- especially those crimes, such as crack cocaine distribution --- that disproportionately affect the Black community.
Only time will tell.