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President Obama commutes life sentence of Michigan man

Jul 13, 2015

A Michigan man is among 46 federal prison inmates who had their prison sentences commuted by President Obama today.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Patrick Roberts was sentenced to life in prison in 1999, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to traffic heroin, cocaine and marijuana. He had four previous convictions.

But President Obama decided Roberts and the other 45 inmates' sentences were too harsh for the non-violent crimes they were convicted of committing.  

The president has now issued nearly 90 commutations, most of them to non-violent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing rules. A commutation leaves the conviction in place, but ends the punishment.

Obama this week is devoting considerable attention to the criminal justice system. He'll lay out ideas for how to improve the fairness of the system during a speech on Tuesday. And on Thursday he'll become the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.

Like the other inmates who will have their sentences commuted, Roberts will be released from federal prison November 10.