Clemency: President Bush Commutes Cocaine Sentences for Two, Grants 12 Pardons
US Justice Department announced Tuesday that President Bush Monday had commuted the sentences of two people imprisoned for cocaine trafficking, including rapper and former Fugees producer John Forte, and pardoned 12 others, including three more people who had been convicted of drug-related offenses.
many more pardons are needed
Pardons are typically granted to persons convicted of a crime who have served their sentences -- the Justice Department recommends waiting five years after that to apply for a pardon -- while commutations typically cut the sentences of those still imprisoned, usually to time served, or in this case December 22.
Presidents typically issue pardons at year's end and especially at term's end, but President Bush has been comparatively stingy. So far, he has granted a total of 171 pardons and eight commutations. That's less than half as many as either President Clinton or President Reagan during their two terms. Perhaps it's a case of like father, like son: President George Herbert Walker Bush pardoned only 74 people during his four years in office.
Those pardoned for drug-related offenses were:
Those whose sentences were commuted:
- Andrew Foster Harley, Falls Church, Virginia.
Offense: Wrongful use and distribution of marijuana and cocaine, Article 112a, Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Sentence: April 17, 1985, as approved June 13, 1985; US Air Force general court martial convened at the US Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado; 90 days' confinement, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and dismissal from the Air Force.
- Robert Earl Mohon Jr., Grant, Alabama.
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute marijuana; 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846.
Sentence: Oct. 22, 1987; Northern District of Alabama; three years in prison.
- Ronald Alan Mohrhoff, Los Angeles
Offense: Unlawful use of a telephone in furtherance of a narcotics felony, 21 U.S.C. § 843(b); possession of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 844(a).
Sentence: Oct. 9, 1984; Central District of California; one year of in prison followed by five years' probation with the special condition of 2,500 hours of community service.
Forte is the only one with a public profile. He co-wrote and produced two songs on the Fugees 1996 Grammy Award winner "The Score," and released two rap albums himself, including one with a track featuring a duet with Carly Simon. Forte got busted flying into Newark International Airport with 31 pounds of liquid cocaine in 2000.
- John Edward Forte, North Brunswick, New Jersey
Offense: Aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine; 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A)(ii), 18 U.S.C. § 2.
Sentence: Nov. 20, 2001; Southern District of Texas; 168 months in prison, five years' supervised release and a $5,000 fine.
Terms of commutation: Sentence of imprisonment to expire on Dec. 22, 2008, leaving intact and in effect the five year term of supervised release with all its conditions.
- James Russell Harris, Detroit, Michigan.
Offense: Conspiracy to aid and abet the distribution of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 846; attempted money laundering, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(3) and 2; aiding and abetting the attempted distribution of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); conspiracy to affect interstate commerce by obtaining property under color of official right, 18 U.S.C. § 1951; attempt to affect interstate commerce by obtaining property under color of official right, 18 U.S.C. § 1951.
Sentence: May 10, 1993; Eastern District of Michigan; 360 months in prison, five years' supervised release and a $50,000 fine.
Terms of clemency grant: Unpaid balance of fine remitted; sentence of imprisonment commuted to expire on Dec. 22, 2008, leaving intact and in effect the five year term of supervised release with all its conditions save the obligation to satisfy the unpaid balance of the fine.
Julie Stewart, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, told the Associated Press she applauded Bush's decision to commute the sentences. She told the AP sentences for many "low-level, first-time, nonviolent drug offenders" don't fit the crime.
According to the latest statistics from the federal Bureau of Prisons, there are currently more than 98,000 people doing time for drug offenses in the federal system.
who would have guessed bush would do this? its one of the few good things he did in his 8 years in office, even though theres plenty more non-violent drug offenders rotting away in americas gulags (prisons) here in the so-called land of the free.