Obama commutes sentences of eight crack cocaine offenders, cites 'unfair system'

Eight crack cocaine offenders imprisoned for at least 15 years will be released as a result of action by President Obama on Thursday.

Obama said in a statement that he commuted the prison terms of the prisoners, who were sentenced under an “unfair system,” according to The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times and the New York Times.

The prisoners were sentenced before Obama signed a 2010 law that narrowed the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses. “If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society,” Obama said of the prisoners.

Among those who will be released is Stephanie George, of Pensacola, Fla., who was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 for hiding her boyfriend’s crack at her home. Another is Clarence Aaron of Mobile, Ala., who was sentenced to three life terms for his part in a 1993 drug deal. At the time of their sentencing, George was 27 and Aaron was 24. Their prison terms will expire in April 2014, according to this list (PDF).

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