Jason Hernandez, whose life without parole sentence was commuted to 20 years yesterday, says he is still shaking from the news that he will be released from prison in five years. Jason’s sentence is one of eight President Obama commuted yesterday — giving these people who were unnecessarily sentenced to die behind bars or to excessively long prison terms a chance to reunite with their families. This is a huge step forward: before yesterday, President Obama had received over 8,700 commutation requests from federal prisoners and granted only one, to a woman dying of leukemia who died at home in October.
Jason told the ACLU that his life sentence for drug-dealing over a five-year period when he was between 15 and 20 years old was like “living and dying at the same time.” He explained, “This life sentence has given me the unique experience of looking at the world through the eyes of a dead man, you could say. Imagining all the things I would love to do, and things I would do differently if only I could get a second chance at life.” Thanks to President Obama, Jason will finally have that second chance.
There are thousands more serving unnecessarily long, extreme sentences. It’s time they went home. Please, Mr. President, keep the commutations coming!