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President Obama pardons several drug offenders

The holidays will be brighter for several people convicted of drug crimes and sentenced to lifetime prison terms. President Obama recently used his power to pardon convicted criminals to set free eight people who had been convicted in crack cocaine offenses. The pardons mark another important step in the way drug policy is changing in the United States.

In August, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that federal prosecutors would be changing the way that they would be prosecuting drug cases. Essentially, he acknowledged that the method of jailing drug offenders (especially non-violent, small-time street dealers) was not good for the country’s long term interests. The past drug policies basically put an entire generation of young African American men behind bars, and had only resulted in growing the prison population along with the cost of jailing offenders.

Three of the offenders pardoned were highlighted in a recent HuffingtonPost.com report. All of them were serving life-without-parole sentences for non-violent crimes. They all reportedly refused plea deals that would have resulted in shorter sentences, but they would have been required to testify to things they did not do, or testify against others in exchange for the possibility of a lenient sentence.

Aside from the sentences, the tragic circumstances are poignant reminders of how important it is for individuals charged with drug offenses to have experienced counsel at their side. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer can analyze all the facts presented and help the accused make informed decisions about their case. As the preceding story suggests, drug crimes can have lifelong implications.

Source: HuffingtonPost.com, “Obama commutes sentences of eight people convicted of crack cocaine offenses,” Saki Knafo, December 20, 2013

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