President Barack Obama on Thursday commuted the criminal sentence of a Raleigh, North Carolina, man convicted nearly 20 years ago on drug-related charges.
George Howard Jones is one of 58 inmates in federal prison who received commutations from the White House on Thursday. In a news statement, White House officials said Jones had been sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to possess cocaine, with the intent to distribute.
Obama’s move to commute Jones’ sentence means his sentence will now expire Sept. 2. The Federal Bureau of Prisons lists Jones as incarcerated at a medium-security facility in South Carolina.
It just doesn’t make sense to require a nonviolent drug offender to serve 20 years, or in some cases, life, in prison.
President Barack Obama
In a related statement posted on Medium this week titled “A Nation of Second Chances,” Obama wrote that he has commuted 306 individual sentences since taking office – more than the past six U.S. presidents combined.
“While I will continue to review clemency applications, only Congress can bring about the lasting changes we need to federal sentencing,” Obama’s post on Medium says. “That is why I am encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in Congress to reform federal sentencing laws, particularly on overly harsh mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
“Because it just doesn’t make sense to require a nonviolent drug offender to serve 20 years, or in some cases, life, in prison. An excessive punishment like that doesn’t fit the crime. It’s not serving taxpayers, and it’s not making us safer.”