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Man in Illinois hopes for clemency for drug sentence

Drug-related crimes should not be taken lightly by those who are faced with them. For decades, authorities have come down especially hard on suspected drug offenders, pursuing multiple charges and harsh sentences. If convicted, a person's family, future job opportunities and freedom could all be in jeopardy.

Even seemingly minor offenses or non-violent offenders could end up sentenced to prison for much longer than they might have believed. For example, one man says he never expected to spend decades behind bars for dealing drugs. But after nearly 18 years in prison, the man is now hoping that he will not have to spend the rest of his life there.

The man in this case is just one of the many who have become victims of an overly aggressive sentencing system. There are thousands of people in a similar situation; people convicted on drug charges and sentenced to prison as a result of aggressive prosecution and mandatory minimums. This has created an enormous overpopulation of the prisons by low-level drug offenders and non-violent criminals.

Citing this upsetting situation, President Barack Obama has announced that he will be considering clemency for people in the same situation as this man. It is possible that this man could have his sentenced dramatically shortened from a life term to 20 years, as it is very likely that if sentenced for the same offense today, his sentence would have been much lower.

A conviction on any drug crime can be devastating to a person's future, and as seen in this case, the sentence a person receives could be very unpredictable and excessive. In order to avoid the harshest punishment, people who are facing charges for drug-related crimes may be wise to speak with an attorney to understand their rights and develop a defense against the charges.

Source: Chron.com, "Given life term, drug offender hopes for clemency," Sharon Cohen, July 19, 2014

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