cocaine

Two Chicagoans to Receive Shortened Prison Sentences From Obama

The president commuted the prison sentences of 46 non-violent offenders on Monday

Two Chicago men were among 46 non-violent offenders whose prison sentences were cut down by President Barack Obama Monday.

Joseph Burgos and Romain Dukes, who were both serving sentences for cocaine-related offenses, received commutations. Their prison sentences will now expire on Nov. 10, 2015.

Burgos was sentenced to 360 months in prison in 1993 for distribution of cocaine, and Dukes was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1997 for conspiracy to distribute "crack" cocaine and two counts of distribution of the drug.

"I applaud the president on his progressive and compassionate decision to right these past excesses of the failed War on Drugs," Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said in a statement. "Jails and prisons are meant to confine individuals who destroy communities and pose legitimate danger to society. Locking up non-violent drug offenders for outrageous amounts of time — whether via pretrial detainment in jails or post-sentencing imprisonment — is both morally questionable and fiscally irresponsible."

President Obama shortened prison sentences of 46 non-violent offenders because "their punishments didn't fit the crime," he said.

"These men and women were not hardened criminals," Obama said in a video released by the White House.

The president commuted the sentence of another prisoner from Chicago in March, along with 21 other offenders nationwide. Levar V. Wade, who was convicted of possessing 50 grams or more of "crack" cocaine with intent to distribute, was initially sentenced to 240 months in prison. His sentence will expire July 28.

President Obama has now issued nearly 90 commutations during his presidency, most of them to non-violent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing guidelines. A commutation leaves the conviction in place, but it ends the punishment.

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