Monday, November 21, 2011

FAMM Statement on Jennings Commutation

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) issued the following statement today here:

“Eugenia Jennings’s 22-year sentence for her nonviolent offense was over-kill. Today, President Obama rights that wrong and we are grateful to him. We urge the President to continue exercising his clemency power and grant more commutations to the many deserving federal prisoners, like Eugenia, who have paid a hefty price for their mistakes and deserve a second chance.”

In 2001, Jennings received a 22-year sentence for a low-level, nonviolent drug offense that involved selling a mere 13.9 grams of crack cocaine to a confidential police informant. Jennings was a survivor of domestic abuse and had a long-standing struggle with drug addiction. She began selling small quantities of crack cocaine to support herself and her three children.

During her decade in federal prison, Jennings conquered her addiction, educated herself, and began speaking publicly to students, warning them of the consequences of drug use. Earlier this year, Jennings was diagnosed with cancer. She has received chemotherapy treatments in prison and shows positive signs of an eventual recovery.

Jennings has a wide network of supporters and advocates, including Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), who learned of her case when her brother, Cedric Parker, testified before Congress. Senator Durbin and Jennings’s lawyers, Thomas Means, Alexander Schaefer and Timothy Foden of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Crowell & Moring, advocated tirelessly for her release.

Jennings is scheduled to be released from federal custody on December 21, 2011, and will return home in time to see her eldest daughter graduate from high school in East St. Louis, Illinois.

With federal prisons currently at 37 percent over their capacity, due largely to mandatory minimum sentencing laws, commutations are more necessary than ever before. One-size-fits-all mandatory sentencing laws undermine the American principle that punishment should fit the crime and the individual offender. Along with granting more commutations, the Obama Administration and Congress should make federal sentencing reform a high priority in 2012."

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