President Barack Obama used his power to commute sentences on Thursday and moved toward freeing eight people who had been convicted of crack cocaine offenses.
Each of the people whose sentences Obama commuted had served at least 15 years and had been convicted before the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which tries to reduce the disparity between crack sentences and those for similar drug crimes.
The President pointed out that in some cases those serving time for crack would have completed their sentences.
“In several cases, the sentencing judges expressed frustration that the law at the time did not allow them to issue punishments that more appropriately fit the crime,” Obama said on Thursday.
One of the people whose sentences was shortened was Reynolds Allen Wintersmith, the first cousin of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who was given a life sentence for dealing crack in 1994. Patrick’s office said that the governor, who is much older than Wintersmith, does not have a recollection of meeting his cousin and was not involved in the application for the commutation of his sentence.