Crime & Justice

All 10 California prisoners granted clemency by Obama were drug offenders

U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference in the State Dining Room at the White House in this October 2, 2015 file photo. On Wednesday, the president cut short the sentences of 214 federal prisoners, including 10 from California.
U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference in the State Dining Room at the White House in this October 2, 2015 file photo. On Wednesday, the president cut short the sentences of 214 federal prisoners, including 10 from California.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Barack Obama reduced the sentences of 214 federal inmates on Wednesday in what the White House called the largest single batch of commutations since 1900.

Of the prisoners granted clemency, 10 were from California. All of those were serving time for nonviolent, drug-related crimes, and five were in for life.

Obama has long held that the United States needs to remedy the consequences of decades of sentencing requirements that put tens of thousands of Americans behind bars for far too long, as the Associated Press reports.

What commutation means for each prisoner depends on his or her individual case. Some will be released this year, while others will see long sentences shortened by just a few years. The president examines each case based on individual merit, according to the White House.

In many cases, clemency comes with a condition — namely, that applicants continue drug treatment after they are released, according to Neil Eggleston, a White House counsel.

In others, the commutation puts the total time served more in line with present-day sentencing policies, Eggleston wrote in a blog post.

You can see some of the details of each of the California-based prisoners granted clemency below, as indicated by the White House:

Jose Luis Buenrostro – Stockton, CA

Original sentence: Life in prison starting Jan. 8, 1997 for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

Commuted to 30 years.

Charles Bynum – Torrance, CA

Original sentence: Life in prison starting May 27, 2003 for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine.

Commuted to expire on Aug. 3, 2018, on the condition of enrollment in a residential drug treatment program.

Osvaldo Cisneros-Gutierrez – Earlimart, CA

Original sentence: 24 years and 4 months in prison starting Oct. 13, 2006 for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 500 grams of methamphetamine.

Commuted to a term of 19 years.

Darnell Crookshank – West Covina, CA

Original sentence: Life in prison for conspiracy to manufacture PCP, along with intent to distribute and aiding and abetting.

Commuted to expire on Dec. 1, 2016.

Keldren Joshua – Los Angeles, CA

Original sentence: 15 years 8 months in prison starting Aug. 21, 2006 — but amended to 14 years on Nov. 10, 2015 — for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

Commuted to expire on Dec. 1, 2016.

Josephine Ledezma – Rialto, CA

Original sentence: Life in prison starting Oct. 30, 1992 for conspiracy to possess and cause to be possessed with the intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance (cocaine).

Commuted to expire on Aug. 3, 2017.

Gregory Allen Liningham – Los Angeles, CA

Original sentence: Life in prison starting Dec. 1, 1993 for possession of more than 50 grams of “crack” cocaine with intent to distribute.

Commuted to expire on Dec. 1, 2016.

Francisco Olivera – Modesto, CA

Original sentence:

  1. 4 years in prison starting Mar. 16 1998 for use of a communication facility in the commission of a drug offense, and…
  2. 27 years in prison starting Nov. 3, 2000 for conspiracy to manufacture and to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute, attempted manufacture of methamphetamine, and possession of a listed chemical knowing that it will be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Commuted to a term of 24 years total.

Derwlyn Rosborough – Lake View Terrace, CA

Original sentence: 20 years in prison starting Dec. 5, 2002 for possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Commuted to expire on Dec. 1, 2016.

Thomas R. Ross – Fairfield, CA

Original sentence: 20 years in prison starting Apr. 26, 2001 for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, conspiracy to distribute pseudoephedrine with knowledge or reasonable cause to believe that it would be used to manufacture a controlled substance, and aiding and abetting.

Commuted to expire on Sep. 2, 2016.