PEORIA — A 38-year-old former Chicago man who was sentenced in Peoria to 30 years in prison was one of the 102 drug offenders whose sentences were commuted Thursday by President Barack Obama.
Roosevelt Hamlin was sentenced in 2010 to 30 years beyond bars on the charge of distribution of crack cocaine. He was arrested in 2008 after selling drugs to an informant. He had been working for another person and received $200 for the transaction, according to federal court records.
Obama's commutation, however, knocked off 64 months or just over five years off his sentence. He still must serve at least 85 percent of his prison term. And while that might not seem like a lot, Hamlin had tried twice since 2010 to have his sentence reduced due to changes in the sentencing guidelines. Both times, he was rebuffed in his efforts.
The president's commutations Thursday meant that hes commuted the sentences of 774 people while in office and 590 just this year alone, according to the White House press office. Most of those affected by Thursday's action were for "individuals serving unduly harsh sentences for drug-related crimes under outdated sentencing laws," according to the White House.
In the 1980s and the 1990s, federal sentencing guidelines hammered people who were convicted of crack cocaine distribution or possession at a rate far harsher than that for powder cocaine or other drugs. Within the past 10 years, the government has taken steps to ratchet those guidelines back.
Brandon J. Lewis, 29, of Houston, was sentenced for drug trafficking conspiracy in Peoria and was sentenced in 2009 to 20 years. Obama this week cut his sentence in half. He was implicated in 2008 to being part of a large cocaine and drug distribution ring here in central Illinois.
Two others who were sentenced elsewhere within the Central District of Illinois which stretches from the Quad Cities to Springfield to Urbana, had their sentences commuted as well.
Leticia Garcia, of Weslaco, Texas, was sentenced in 2008 to 20 years behind bars for conspiracy to distribute heroin in Henry County. She was sentenced to 20 years but Obama's action caused her sentence to end Feb. 3, 2017.
The last person affected was Jerry Pirtle of Springfield who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for distribution of 50 or more grams of crack. Obama's commutation will cause him to be released from prison on Feb. 3, 2017.