President Barack Obama has cut short the sentences of 111 federal inmates, including four Californians, in another round of commutations for those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.
Obama has long called for phasing out strict sentences for drug offenses, arguing they lead to excessive punishment and incarceration rates unseen in other developed countries.
White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said the commutations underscore the president's commitment to using his clemency authority to give deserving individuals a second chance.
He said that Obama has granted a total of 673 commutations, more than the previous 10 presidents combined. More than one-third of the recipients were serving life sentences.
Eggleston said he expects Obama to continue granting commutations through the end of his administration, but only legislation can ensure the federal sentencing system operates more fairly.
"We must remember that these are individuals — sons, daughters, parents, and in many cases, grandparents — who have taken steps toward rehabilitation and who have earned their second chance," Eggleston said in a statement posted on the White House website. "They are individuals who received unduly harsh sentences under outdated laws for committing largely nonviolent drug crimes, for example, the 35 individuals whose life sentences were commuted today."
The Californians whose received commuted sentences are:
Barry Renfold Cooley, Los Angeles
- Offense: Conspiracy to distribute narcotics; District of Nebraska
- Sentence: Life imprisonment; five years' supervised release (Dec. 29, 2004)
- Commutation grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Aug. 30, 2018, conditioned upon enrollment in residential drug treatment.
Orfil Javier Garza, Pacoima
- Offense: Possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense; District of Utah
- Sentence: 180 months' imprisonment; five years' supervised release (Jan. 13, 2010)
- Commutation grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Dec.28, 2016.
Darryl Lamar Reed, San Leandro
- Offense: Manufacture and possession with intent to distribute crack and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and aiding and abetting; Northern District of California
- Sentence: 420 months' imprisonment; five years' supervised release; $50,000 fine (January 29, 1990)
- Commutation grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Dec. 28, 2016.
Richard Van Winrow, Los Angeles
- Offense: Possession with intent to distribute a narcotic drug controlled substance; felon in possession of a firearm; Central District of California
- Sentence: Life imprisonment (Dec. 6, 1989)
- Commutation grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on Aug. 30, 2017.
For the complete list of individuals whose sentences were commuted, see the press release on the White House website.