Carbondale man receives commutation from Obama

Submitted by Carbondale Times on

Carbondale Times

A Carbondale man is among the more than 200 federal inmates now facing shorter prison sentences following action this week that the White House calls the largest batch of commutations on a single day in more than a century.

Jamonte L. Allison, who was sentenced in September 2005 to 20 years in prison on a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute 5 or more grams of crack cocaine, now will see his sentence expire Dec. 1 of this year following President Obama’s order this week.

Also receiving commutations from Southern Illinois were Christopher J. Heath of Ridgway, Courtney D. Hurt of Tamms, Albert Jackson of Mt. Vernon and Tommy M. Martinez of Sparta.

All were incarcerated for drug-related crimes.

Obama on Wednesday cut short the sentences of 214 federal inmates, including 67 life sentences.

Obama’s push to lessen the burden on nonviolent drug offenders reflects his long-stated view that the U.S. needs to remedy the consequences of decades of onerous sentencing requirements that put tens of thousands behind bars for far too long. Obama has used the aggressive pace of his commutations to increase pressure on Congress to pass a broader fix and to call more attention to the issue.

All told, Obama has commuted 562 sentences during his presidency — more than the past nine presidents combined, the White House said. Almost 200 of those who have benefited were serving life sentences.

Civil liberties groups have pushed the Obama administration to grant commutations at a faster pace. The Clemency Resource Center, part of NYU School of Law, said more than 11,000 petitions are pending at the Justice Department.

But the calls for greater clemency have sometimes sparked accusations from Obama’s opponents that he’s too soft on crime, an argument that is particularly resonant this year as presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton trade claims about who is best positioned to keep the country safe. 

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.