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Trump Grants Clemency To 5, Most Incarcerated For Drug Offenses

President Trump on Wednesday granted clemency to five people, commuting their lengthy sentences as part of his administration's pitch for criminal justice reform.

Four of the five people had been in prison because of drug offenses, while the fifth had been sentenced for food stamp fraud.

The five cases had been highlighted by clemency activists, including Alice Marie Johnson, who has worked with the White House on the issue, and who spoke at the Republican National Convention this summer.

Johnson's own prison sentence was commuted in 2018 after she had already served 21 years on drug charges, and this summer, she was granted a full presidential pardon.

Criminal justice reform is one of the Trump administration's focal points in its reelection campaign to voters, particularly to Black Americans.

As activists highlight the lengthy, often disproportionate prison sentences doled out to Black Americans, especially for nonviolent drug offenses, Trump has highlighted the commutations and pardons he has granted as evidence of his awareness of issues important to the Black community.

The five citizens granted clemency on Wednesday were: Lenora Logan, who had already been incarcerated for nearly 20 years on drug charges; Charles Tanner, who had served 16 years for a drug offence; John Bolen, who was 13 years into a life sentence for a drug conviction; Curtis McDonald, who has been in prison since 1996 for drug trafficking and money laundering; and Rashella Reed, who served six years of a 14 year sentence for food stamp fraud.

In a statement announcing their commutations, the White House described all of the individuals as having been model inmates during their incarcerations who had worked to better themselves and the people around them while still behind bars.

"In light of the decisions these individuals have made following their convictions to improve their lives and the lives of others while incarcerated, the President has determined that each is deserving of an Executive Grant of Clemency," the White House said in a statement.

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Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.