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President Obama Tells Clarence Aaron He Can Finally Go Home

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

By Cora Currier

President Obama has ordered an early release from prison for Clarence Aaron, who has spent 20  years there, hoping for mercy.

Aaron’s commutation is one of eight crack cocaine-related sentences commuted in December. Obama said the sentences were meted out under an “unfair system” that among other things featured a vast disparity between crack and powder cocaine cases.

The White House ordered a new review of Aaron’s petition in 2012 after ProPublica and the Washington Post reported that the government’s pardon attorney, Ronald Rodgers, had misrepresented Aaron’s case to President George W. Bush. An Inspector General’s report released last December supported ProPublica’s findings, and referred the incident to the Deputy Attorney General to determine if “administrative action is appropriate.”

Clarence Aaron finally freed

Clarence Aaron finally freed

As a first-time, non-violent drug offender sentenced to three life terms in 1993, Aaron had seemed a model candidate for presidential mercy. He first applied for a commutation – meaning early release – in 2001.

“He was just overcome,” said his attorney, Margaret Love, who spoke with Aaron shortly after he received the news. “We’re very grateful to the president.”
Aaron’s release is effective April 17, though Love said he may go home sooner.

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