By Phillip Smith on Nov. 21
The White House announced Monday that President Barack Obama had granted pardons to five people, including three whose offenses were marijuana-related, and commuted the sentence of a woman doing more than 20 years on a crack cocaine charge. As is the case with every administration, the White House provided no explanation for its choice of pardons.
The only recipient of presidential largesse who was still actually serving a prison sentence is Eugenia Marie Jennings of Alton, Illinois. She was almost halfway through a 22-year sentence for crack cocaine distribution when President Obama commuted her sentence. She will now be released in one month, but will still have to serve eight years of probation. Jennings's brother, Cedric Parker, testified before the House Judiciary Committee in 2009.
This is the third set of clemencies issued by President Obama. Each of the earlier sets also included at least one drug offender. So far, President Obama has pardoned or commuted the sentences of 23 people.
The number of clemencies issued by President Obama is small so far compared to other presidents. George W. Bush pardoned or commuted the sentences of 200 people, while Bill Clinton pardoned 459. Other presidents have also pardoned hundreds of people during the course of their terms.
The marijuana offenders pardoned Monday were:
- Lesly Claywood Berry Jr. of Loreto, Kentucky, pardoned for 1988 convictions in federal court in Minnesota for conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana. He had done three years in federal prison.
- A second Kentucky man, Ricky Dale Collett of Annville, pardoned for a 2002 conviction in federal court in his home state for aiding and abetting a 61 plant marijuana grow. He had done a year's probation and two months home detention.
- Dennis George Bulin of Wesley Chapel, Florida, pardoned for a 1987 conviction in federal court in Alabama for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 pounds of marijuana. He had done five years probation and paid a $20,000 fine.
The other two pardons were of an Illinois man convicted of stolen property offenses and a Tennessee man with a federal gambling conviction.