Eight TN drug offenders get Obama sentence cuts

Eight Tennesseans are among 214 drug offenders whose prison sentences were shortened Wednesday by President Barack Obama in the largest single-day grant of commutations in the nation’s history.

further from Michael Collins:

Deborah Lucille Blue of Alcoa, Debra Brown of Nashville, Thomas Duncan of Columbia, Steve Gillespie of Greeneville, Robert L. Matthews of Memphis, Kenneth Smith of Nashville, Jimmy Walden Jr. of Morristown and Byron Willis of Knoxville will see their sentences shortened as a result of Obama’s actions.

“This is a country that believes in second chances,” Obama wrote of the commutations in a Facebook post.

…Blue was charged with two counts of distribution of cocaine base and with possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, as well as a supervised release violation for distributing cocaine hydrochloride. In 2014, she was given an amended sentence of 19.5 years in prison.

Brown was serving a 20-year prison sentence for distribution of 50 grams or more of cocaine base to a person under age 21. The sentence was handed down in 2002.

Duncan was sentenced in 2002 to more than 29 years in prison for possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense; being a felon in possession of a firearm; and possession of five grams or more of cocaine base with intent to distribute.

Gillespie was sentenced in 2006 to nearly 22 years in prison for possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base.

Matthews was serving two sentences — a 23-year sentence handed down in 1997 for distribution of cocaine base and possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Northern Mississippi; and a 15-month sentence from 1998 for a supervised release violation in Western Tennessee.

Smith was sentenced in 2001 to 20 years in prison for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine; being a felon in possession of firearms; and for giving a false written statement to a licensed firearm dealer.

Walden was sentenced to life in prison in 2008 for possession with the intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base; possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base; possession with the intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine; and possession with intent to distribute a quantity of marijuana.

Willis was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2005 for distribution of 500 grams or more of cocaine hydrochloride.

Under Obama’s commutation orders, Blue, Brown, Duncan, Matthews, Smith and Willis will see their sentences expire on Dec. 1. Gillespie’s and Walden’s sentences will expire Aug. 3, 2018, if they enroll in a residential drug treatment program.