Obama pardons 78, shortens the sentence for 153

HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama pardoned 78 people and shortened the sentence of 153 others convicted of federal crimes, the greatest number of individual clemencies in a single day by any president, the White House said Monday.

Four local men were among those who had their sentences shortened or commuted:

  • Jermaine Brown, of Hampton, had his sentence of 548 months imprisonment with five years’ supervised release amended to 511 months’ imprisonment. Brown was convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, distribution of cocaine base and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute cocaine, cocaine base, and marijuana.
  • A Yorktown man, Tyrelle Deyon Jones, was sentenced to life behind bars with 10 years of supervised release in 2004. The president commuted his sentence to expire on April 18, 2017. His charges included conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine base and four counts of distribution of cocaine base.
  • In 1993, Clinton Stanley Matthews, of Norfolk, was sentenced to life with five years of supervised release for distributing a mixture or substance containing cocaine base, five counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, cocaine base and heroin. His sentence was commuted to expire on April 18, 2017.
  • Dennis Scott McCullough, also from Norfolk, had his prison sentence of 262 months imprisonment and five years’ supervised release commuted to a term of 188 months, as long as he enrolled in residential drug treatment. McCullough was sentenced in 2007 for conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base.

Obama has been granting commutations at rapid-fire pace in his final months in office, but he has focused primarily on shortening sentences of those convicted of drug offenses rather than pardons. Pardons amount to forgiveness of a crime that removes restrictions on the right to vote, hold state or local office, or sit on a jury. The pardon also lessens the stigma arising from the conviction.

Neil Eggleston, Obama’s White House counsel, said Obama has now pardoned a total of 148 people during his presidency and has shortened the sentences of 1,176 people, including 395 serving life sentences.

Eggleston said each clemency recipient’s story is unique, but a common thread of rehabilitation underlies all of them. Pardon recipients have shown they have led a productive and law-abiding post-conviction life, including by contributing to the community in a meaningful way, he said.

Commutation recipients have made the most of his or her time in prison by participating in educational courses, vocational training, and drug treatment, he said.

“These are the stories that demonstrate the successes that can be achieved — by both individuals and society — in a nation of second chances,” Eggleston said.

The commutations were announced as Obama vacations in Hawaii during the holidays.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.