Dwayne Twane Walker of Charlottesville, VA was supposed to serve the rest of his life in jail for distributing cocaine base. Come this July he will rejoin the free world thanks to orders from President Barack Obama. On March 30, Walker, the only inmate from Virginia on the list, was named among 61 individuals the President granted clemency; 21 of them were serving life sentences.
“It does not make sense for a non-violent drug offender to be getting 20 years, 30 years, in some cases life in prison. That’s not serving anybody,” Obama said after having a burger with 3 formerly incarcerated women and four men whose sentences were previously pardoned.
Following a meeting at the White House on Wednesday President Obama invited them to an impromptu lunch at the not-too-shabby Busboys and Poets in DC. They discussed their transition back into society, an area of prisoner recuperation the White House has been looking at in its efforts to make re-entry easier.
The White House says the President has now commuted the sentences of 248 individuals – more than the previous six Presidents combined. Obama has commuted a total of 92 life sentences.
In a White House press briefing today on “Life After Clemency,” White House Council Neil Eggleston said they will continue to work to change the unduly harsh and outdated sentencing practices that “over crowd our prisons, burn through our tax dollars and do not make us safer.”
The President’s visit with the former prisoners comes a day after he spoke at a summit on the Opioids epidemic in Atlanta. Obama has addressed the complex system of drug dealing and abuse and is committed to reforming the subsequent unfairly weighted prison sentences for drug offenders in the Criminal Justice system.
The White House says he plans to release more non-violent prisoners before he leaves office.