President Obama commuted the sentence of a man given three extra years in jail because of a typographical error on Tuesday. This latest act of clemency by Obama, who has been called the least merciful president in recent history, aligns with his policy proposals to reduce sentences for petty drug criminals.
Ceasar Huerta Cantu pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and money laundering charges in 2006. Under sentencing guidelines, Cantu was only supposed to serve 138 months behind bars for his “base offense level”—a measure of how serious a crime is—of 34. But administrators put the level in at 36, which caused him to receive a 180-month sentence.
Because Cantu failed to report the mistake in time for a judicial correction, the only way to fix it was through executive clemency. On Tuesday, Obama’s commutation reduced Cantu’s sentence to 138 months in prison, all of which have already been served. Cantu received five years supervised release in 2006.
Tuesday’s commutation is the ninth Obama has granted in the past five months, all of which have reduced the sentences of drug-related offenders. In December, President Obama commuted the sentences of eight crack cocaine offenders serving lengthy sentences, as part of his continuous effort to roll back the disparity between crack cocaine convictions, and those for other drugs. Seven of the eight convicted felons who were granted commutations in December of last year will have been released by Thursday.
Judicial experts predict Obama will continue granting mass commutations for low-level drug offenders, and some are estimating hundreds will be granted before Obama leaves office.
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