Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Obama pardons 8 crack cocaine sentences

20 December 2013, 12:18

Washington - President Barack Obama commuted the prison sentences of eight people convicted of crack cocaine offenses Thursday, saying they were punished under an unfair legal disparity that overwhelmingly hurt impoverished black communities.

All of the inmates had been imprisoned for at least 15 years, including six who were sentenced to life behind bars. Most will be released by April 17.

The prisoners likely would have received lighter jail terms if they had been sentenced under a law Obama signed three years ago that reduced sentencing disparities that once treated crack cocaine offenses more harshly than powder cocaine ones.

Obama said the six men and two women were jailed under an "unfair system" in which someone arrested with one gram of crack cocaine received the same sentencing as someone arrested with 100 grams of powdered cocaine, a ratio that was mitigated by the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act.

"If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society," Obama said in a statement.

"Instead, because of a disparity in the law that is now recognized as unjust, they remain in prison, separated from their families and their communities, at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars each year."

The powerful American Civil Liberties Union rights group hailed Obama's decision but stressed that he has one of the smallest pardon and commutation records of any US president in recent history.

In five years in office, Obama had previously granted 39 pardons and commuted one sentence.

"This is one important step toward undoing the damage that extreme sentencing has done to so many in our criminal justice system," said ACLU deputy legal director Vanita Gupta.

"We hope the president will continue to exercise his clemency powers and lend his support to systemic reform that will make our criminal justice system smarter, fairer and more humane."

The 2010 fair sentencing measure reduced penalties such that someone arrested with one gram of crack now receives the same sentence as as someone arrested with 18 grams of powdered cocaine, and eliminated the five-year mandatory minimum sentence for simple crack cocaine possession.

Just a quarter of crack cocaine users are black, but 81 percent of people condemned for crack possession or dealing were African Americans in 2007, according to the US Sentencing Commission.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
DP Ruto accuses Raila of selling ...

DP Wiliam Ruto has castigated Raila Odinga for seeking western support to fund his 2017 election bid. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Peter Kenneth announces Uhuru 201...

Peter Kenneth has announced that he will support President Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2017 elections. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilon Ochieng
Labour Party to dump both Jubilee...

The Labour Party of Kenya is likely to avoid supportoing both the CORD and Jubilee factions during the 2017 General Elections. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Ukambani MP quits Jubilee, to run...

An Ukambani MP has quit the Jubilee Party, citing voter apathy as his reason behind leaving the ruling coalition. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Government launches probe into Po...

The government has launched an inquiry into the circumstances that could have led to two National Police Service helicopter accidents in August and September this year. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilwon Ochieng
Deputy Governor's ally found with...

The EACC has recovered KES 2 million in fake currency from a close ally of Deputy Governor for Tharaka Nithi Eliud Mati. Read more...