Philadelphia

Biden Gives 2 Charged With Nonviolent Drug Crimes Shorter Sentences

“America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation,” the president said in a statement announcing the clemencies

President Joe Biden standing in front of flags.

President Joe Biden is commuting the sentences of two Philadelphia men convicted of drug crimes in the first round of clemencies during his presidency.

Gregory Jones and David Lee have been granted a shorter sentence by Biden, the White House announced Tuesday.

Jones had eight years left in his sentence. He was charged with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms of cocaine and related charges.

Lee had 13 years left. Lee was charged with conspiracy to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin and to distribute or manufacture in or near a school zone, plus additional charges.

Both Jones and Lee's sentences now expire on April 26, 2023.

What remains of their sentences will be served in home confinement, according to the White House. Their probation time and any unpaid fines will remain intact, according to the list of clemencies.

Biden also commuted the sentences of 73 other people nationwide for nonviolent, drug-related convictions.

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The White House announced the clemencies Tuesday as it launched a series of job training and reentry programs for those in prison or recently released. Since 2017, Second Chance Month has been observed in the United States as a time to raise awareness about criminal convictions, often helping those who were formerly incarcerated reenter society in different ways.

Many of those who received commutations have been serving their sentences on home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several were serving lengthy sentences and would have received lesser terms had they been convicted today for the same offenses. That's because of a change to sentencing guidelines that happened in 2018 during the Trump administration.

Biden also granted the first three pardons of his term Tuesday, providing clemency to a Kennedy-era Secret Service agent convicted of federal bribery charges after trying to sell a copy of an agency file. He also pardoned two people who were convicted on drug-related charges but went on to make noteworthy contributions to their communities, according to the White House.

“America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation,” Biden said in a statement announcing the clemencies. “Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values that enable safer and stronger communities.”

The Department of Justice in conjunction with the Department of Labor also announced Tuesday a joint investment of $145 million to provide job skills training, individualized employment, and reentry plans for people incarcerated in federal prison facilities. In a first-of-its-kind move, the partnership will also provide pathways to employment and reentry support upon release, according to a statement from the Biden administration.

The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

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