In what’s being called his “first bold act of executive clemency,” President Obama has granted a pardon to a woman who was sentenced to more than two decades in prison after being convicted of possession with intent to distribute 13.9 grams of crack cocaine, ColorLines reports. Eugenia Marie Jennings of Alton, Ill., who was 23 years old when she was sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2001, will be released next month.
In August Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act to reduce the disparities in sentencing for crack- and powder-cocaine offenses. Under the new law, the ratio in sentencing is reduced to 18 to 1 from 100 to 1. (Previously, a person convicted of simple possession of crack cocaine received the same mandatory sentence as a person with 100 times that amount of powder cocaine.)
Even the judge in Parker’s case could see that that was unfair. He said at her sentencing, “Your whole life has been a life of deprivation, misery, whippings, and there is no way to unwind that … But the truth of the matter is, it’s not in my hands. As I told you, Congress has determined that the best way to handle people who are troublesome is we just lock them up.”
Read more at ColorLines.