The so-called “third strike” law is one that is often used unfairly to send people to jail for the remainder of their natural life. This law can send a person with low-level drug charges to prison for life if he or she has a third strike. Recently, President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of a Chicago man who was nailed using the third strike law on a federal drug conviction.
The man had two convictions for drug possession that only netted him probation. He was then convicted in a drug conspiracy case in 1994. He got a life sentence based on the third strike law for his role as a low-level courier. The drug dealers and drug suppliers who were charged in the same case both received shorter sentences.
After spending 22 years in federal prison, the man is now slated to get out of prison by the 2016 winter holiday season thanks to the sentence commute by President Obama. Having his sentence commuted was his only option to get out of prison while he was still alive. The man had already appealed his case, but his appeals failed. The mandatory life sentence was upheld in those appeals.
This year, President Obama commuted the sentences of almost 100 federal inmates. While nobody facing federal drug charges should count on getting a presidential commute for his or her sentence, this set of commutes shows that drug convictions on a federal level are associated with very harsh penalties that are often too harsh. Everybody who is facing federal drug charges should make sure to present a strong defense.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “Obama commutes life sentence of Chicago man convicted on drug charges,” Andy Grimm, Dec. 18, 2015