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Three Wisconsin men receive commutation for drug charges

Facing drug charges can be a difficult time for a defendant. However, enduring the consequences of a drug crime conviction can be life-altering. On top of the penalties associated with the crime, such as prison time and fines, the accused endures personal and professional hardships while they are in prison and once they are released. Therefore, even if an individual in Wisconsin is convicted of a drug crime and is serving time, it is important to note that there are criminal defense options even after a conviction.

In the week prior to his departure from office, former President Obama issued more than 500 sentence commutations. Of those, five were issued to people convicted of drug crimes in the Western District of Wisconsin. Three of the men were charged with cocaine distribution, and for these drug distribution charges the men were originally sentenced to 20 or more years.

All three men had their sentences reduced to 11, 13 and a half and 12 years. None of these men were immediately released and all of their sentences would expire on January 17, 2019. Once released, all of the men would have to enroll in a residential drug treatment program.

The Clemency Project 2014, a Washington, D.C.-based program, recently assisted many of those receiving commutations. This project was formed, at the behest of the DOJ, to reduce disparities in sentencing for those charged with non-violent, drug-related offenses. Prior to recent changes, sentences for crack cocaine were much stricter than those for selling powder cocaine. Therefore, many seek options to reduce their sentences for past convictions. In order to be eligible for this program, a person must have served at least 10 years of their sentence and meet other required criteria.

Facing the consequences and harsh penalties of a drug crime can be difficult to endure. Those facing such charges should understand their defense options. And for those currently serving time for such charges, there might be defense options to make an appeal or seek a reduced sentence.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal, "5 with local ties receive drug sentence commutations from Obama," Ed Treleven, Jan. 19, 2017

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