- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2016

President Obama commuted the sentences of another 98 federal prisoners Thursday, bringing his record total of commutations to 872.

Of the inmates receiving clemency Thursday, 19 had committed crimes with firearms. Forty-two of them had been sentenced to life imprisonment for drug offenses.

Earlier this month, the president had commuted the sentences of 102 prisoners.

“In this year alone, the president has commuted the sentences of 688 deserving individuals — more than the previous 11 presidents combined — and the most ever done by a president in a single year,” said White House counsel Neil Eggleston.

The White House has emphasized the unfairness of inmates serving life sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. But for a president who wants to curb gun violence, Mr. Obama also has granted clemency to a considerable number of prisoners who committed their crimes with firearms.

For example, Tony Orlando Hughes of Newport News, Virginia, was convicted of eight counts of possession of a firearm in 2004 for a cocaine-trafficking bust. He was sentenced to more than 216 years in prison, about 175 years of which was owing to the firearms offenses. Mr. Obama reduced that prison term to 30 years.

Several others were convicted of illegally possessing a firearm as a prior felon.

Eleven of the prisoners had been convicted of trafficking five or more kilograms (at least 11 pounds) of cocaine.

Thomas Lee Miller, convicted in Minnesota in 2003 of attempting to manufacture methamphetamine in a school zone, had his 30-year prison sentence commuted to 15 years, to expire on Oct. 27, 2018, conditioned upon enrollment in residential drug treatment.

Alicia Siller of Coleman, Texas, now age 40, was sentenced in 2003 to 21 years and 10 months in prison for her role in a methamphetamine conspiracy. She has three children and two grandchildren.

Mr. Obama granted her release from prison on Oct. 27, 2018, provided that she enrolls in a residential drug treatment program.

“Being convicted at the age of twenty-seven and sentenced to 262 months was a difficult situation not only for me but more so for my children,” she wrote on the web page of a group advocating for her release. “Through the years it has been extremely difficult for my children to grow up without their mother. My oldest child was 8 years old when I was sent to prison. She has now graduated from college and has two daughters of her own, whom I have never met.”

She said her offenses “did not involve any guns, any links to gangs, cartels, or violence whatsoever.”

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