Lumpkin is currently serving the 15th year of a mandatory 20-year prison sentence for a non-violent, drug-related offense. More specifically, he is said to have played a "minor role" in a conspiracy to sell and distribute crack cocaine. At trial, his judge complained of the "very, very harsh" sentence required by law, but said that his hands were "tied." His application is supported by more than 30 letters in support. He says that he takes “full responsibility" for his actions and that he also regrets them "every day.” The ACLU says:
Lumpkin is one of thousands of people in this country, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, who have been given extremely long sentences under the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. The Fair Sentencing Act passed by Congress last year reduced the disparity from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1 but did not fully eliminate it.Last year, the ACLU filed a commutation petition with President Obama on behalf of Hamedah Hasan, a mother and grandmother now serving the 18th year of an unjust 27-year prison sentence for a first time, non-violent crack cocaine conspiracy offense. That petition is still pending after nearly a full year.
Had Lumpkin’s offense involved powder instead of crack cocaine – the same quantity of the same drug in a different form – his mandatory minimum sentence would have been 10 years instead of 20, he would have already served his entire sentence, he would have been there to watch his children graduate from high school and the birth of his first grandchild and he would have been able to help care for his mother, who is recuperating from a stroke she suffered several years ago.
Read more about Lumpkin's sentence and rehabilitatinon and the ACLU's efforts here.