President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of more than 1,000 federal inmates for primarily non-violent drug sentences. Earlier this month, Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen urged the President to do a lot more and fast! The democratic lawmaker’s concern is President-elect Donald Trump won’t make commuting drug sentences a priority.
Commuting drug sentences could affect many people who feel they were unfairly sentenced.
Brian Tillman of Memphis was sentenced to 12 years and one month for cocaine conspiracy. Tillman doesn’t think he should have been convicted on drug charges, since he wasn’t caught with the drug in the first place.
“It’s what you call a ghost conspiracy. A case that is built with offenders who have astronomical sentences and they come back and testify in order to cut their sentences,” said Tillman.
Tillman also doesn’t think his sentence was fair either. When he was sentenced in 2000, his girlfriend was pregnant with his son. “So basically, I watched my son grow up in pictures in the visiting room all over the country.”
Tillman was sentenced nearly a decade before legislation was passed that would reduce certain non-violent drug convictions. “I have friends of mine that have life sentences on non-violent conspiracy cases.”
In certain situations, there only way out might be for the President to commute their sentences.
“There are a lot of people in jail that don’t belong in jail. They should be with their families and they should get a second chance or not costing tax payers $30,000 a year, ” said Congressman Cohen.
Cohen and several other criminal reform advocates sent the President a letter asking him to do everything he can to expedite the clemency review process.
Cohen also asked for extra attention on non-violent marijuana-related convictions. Cohen noted medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states. Recreational marijuana is legal in several states as well.