The New York Times recently released a video documentary about a man, Jesse Webster, who has already served 18 years of his life sentence for a non-violent drug conviction. It was the Webster's first conviction, which involved the violation of a law that is now expired. While the guidelines for sentencing have become less severe since that time, there is no retroactive application of these guidelines. In the documentary, the inmate's family members talk about their shock at the severity of the sentence and their hope that President Obama would grant their loved one a reduced sentence.
According to the video, Webster became a driver for a drug dealer when he was a teenager, and he later got into dealing cocaine. He decided to turn himself in after learning that federal agents were searching for him. While being reluctant to give such a harsh sentence, the judge gave the man to life without parole, which was the mandatory sentence at the time. The documentary noted that both the judge and the prosecuting attorney filed petitions for clemency for Webster.
Webster's family members, including his daughter who only has memories of him behind bars, discussed the hardship of not having him around. The inmate's mother wrote a letter to President Obama asking for a sentence reduction. Sadly, the video closed by stating that the woman's son was not among the eight prisoners to have their sentences commuted on Dec. 19, 2013. Click here to watch the video documentary and hear the family members' story firsthand.
Sadly, there are many individuals who have suffered from overly harsh sentences because of previous laws that clamped down heavily on crack cocaine offenses, and because of laws requiring mandatory minimum prison terms. Sometimes even the judge knows that the sentence is too severe but cannot do anything about it because of legal barriers. According to a recent article by NPR, legislators are discussing a proposal to dramatically lower minimum sentences for drug offenders and are currently drawing up a Senate bill.
If you are facing charges for a drug offense or for any other type of crime, you can turn to Taylor & Waldrop Attorneys for assistance. Our St. Augustine criminal defense lawyers can fight aggressively to protect your freedom and your rights. Contact us today!