Society takes a dim view of drug offenders but sentences of life in prison seem unduly Draconian when their offenses didn’t involve violence.
This certainly appears to be the view of President Barack Obama whose office has commuted the sentences of two drug offenders from Texas.
The offenders whose sentences have been commuted are Douglas Ray Dunkins Jr., 50 and Danny White, 55, from Garland and Fort Worth, reported the Dallas Morning News.
Obama commuted the sentences of 42 federal prisoners last week as part of his push to free drug offenders who committed offenses that did not involve violence.
When they are released from prison at the beginning of October, both men will have served at least 20 years. It seems like a considerable time given the nature of their offenses.
White, of Garland was imprisoned in 1996 for manufacturing or attempting to produce methamphetamine. According to court records he was also convicted of possessing ethyl ether and a three-neck round-bottom flask, commonly associated with drug manufacture.
Dunkins, received a mandatory life sentence in 1993 for participating in a crack cocaine-dealing conspiracy. The Dallas Morning News stated the mandatory sentence would have been 20 years rather than life, if the drug in question had been powder cocaine.
The White House has branded these prison terms as being imposed under “outdated and unduly harsh” sentencing laws.
“The individuals receiving a presidential commutation today have more than repaid their debt to society and earned this second chance,” stated White House Counsel Neil Eggleston.
The number of commutations from the White House has increased markedly in recent years, USA Today reported. The latest round brings Obama’s total to 348, exceeding those of the previous seven presidents combined. More than a third of the offenders in question received life sentences.
They illustrate how the tough stance taken by federal authorities over drug offenders in the past led to some unacceptably harsh sentences in states such as Texas.
Obama, as well as a group of lawmakers, have called for an overhaul of some of these laws. Obama has said low level drug dealers owe a debt to society but sentences of 20 years of life in prison are “disproportionate” to the debt that needs to be paid.
The harsh sentences that have been given to many drug dealers in Texas in recent years highlight exactly why you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are charged with a federal drug offense.