Obama Commutes Three Ohioans' Federal Prison Sentences

click to enlarge Obama Commutes Three Ohioans' Federal Prison Sentences
KATE TER HAAR
Amid ongoing national debates over sentencing reform, President Barack Obama commuted the prison sentences of 46 U.S. convicts. Three hailed from Ohio.

“These men and women were not violent criminals, but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years; 14 of them had been sentenced to life for nonviolent drug offenses, so their punishments didn’t fit the crime,” Obama said in a video released on the White House Facebook page earlier this week. “I believe that America, at its heart, is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve their second chance.”

Shauna Barry-Scott, a Youngstown woman, was convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in 2005. She was sentenced to 240 months in jail and 10 years of supervised release. Her sentence will now expire on Nov. 10.

Bart Stover, from Ashland, was convicted of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana and cocaine; use of a communication facility to facilitate the commission of drug trafficking offense, aiding and abetting in 2005. He was sentenced to 240 months in jail and 10 years of supervised release. His sentence will now expire on Nov. 10.

And Kimberly Westmoreland, from Columbus, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute in excess of 50 grams of cocaine base; carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime in 2004. She was sentenced to 180 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Her sentence will now expire on Nov. 10.

“I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around," Obama wrote in a personalized letter to George inmate Jerry Bailey — the one letter of his 46 sent to federal prisons actually to be published with this week’s news. "Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. Perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances. But remember that you have the capacity to make good choices."

With that, Obama has commuted more sentences than any president since Lyndon Johnson. Still, however, the U.S. imprisons more people per capita than any other country on the planet. 

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Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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