Local Attorneys Talk Sentencing

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Story by: James Buechele

Tallahassee, Fla.

Earlier this week almost 50 drug offenders saw their sentences commuted by President Obama.

The presidents wants to free many non-violent criminals from correctional facilities. Defense attorney Nathan Prince says he applauds the move by the White House.

"It's certainly a positive development," said Prince.

Prince added that this is a step towards bringing down minimum mandatory sentences, which means the smallest amount of time a person has to spend in jail for a crime they committed.

Opponents of the new change in tone say this is just enabling drug users across the country.

State attorney Willie Meggs is one person that takes issue with this week's announcement.

"This country is in a state of moral decline," said Meggs. "Acts like this with drug dealers, drug users major drug offenders just sends a message that drugs are okay."

"You always have kind of have the faction that's morally opposed to drugs," said Prince.

"We need to send a clear and strong message that using, selling, distributing [drugs] is unacceptable," added Meggs.

By: Associated Press
July 13, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Five Florida men serving life sentences for drug crimes have had those prison terms cut by President Barack Obama.

Obama cut the prison sentences of 46 non-violent offenders nationwide on Monday, saying "their punishments didn't fit the crime."

They included 11 in Florida, including five serving life sentences. Now those sentences will expire Nov. 10.

Obama has now issued nearly 90 commutations during his presidency, most of them to non-violent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing guidelines. A commutation leaves the conviction in place, but ends the punishment.

White House counsel Neil Eggleston says the president could issue even more commutations before leaving office in 2017.

Obama plans to present ideas for improving the fairness of the U.S. criminal justice system during a speech Tuesday to the NAACP.

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