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One Texas Inmate Said No to the President's Get-Out-of-Jail Card

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President Obama has commuted the sentences of more than 750 federal inmates and only one has rejected the offer. But why?

From Texas Standard:

President Obama has commuted the sentences of more federal inmates than the last ten presidents combined. Many of those who saw their sentence shortened are from Texas, mostly doing time on drug-related charges. They've all accepted the Obama administration's offer – until now.

At at a low-security prison in Beaumont, one inmate said no.


Gregory Korte, a White House correspondent for USA Today, has been covering the president's commutations. He says President Obama has been commuting the sentences of non-violent drug offenders. Last week, the numbers that Korte has been keeping totaled 775 but the White House's total was only 774.

"Turns out that discrepancy was caused by an inmate in Texas by the name of Arnold Ray Jones," Korte says.

Jones was convicted in 2002 for drug trafficking in Lubbock. In 2014 President Obama formed a clemency program to commute sentences of non-violent drug offenders.

"He applied to President Obama for clemency," Korte says. "During the war on drugs, we had drug offenders charged with 10-, 20-, 30-year sentences."

After Jones applied for clemency, President Obama "put a string attached to it" and began to include mandatory residential drug treatment as a requirement for some prisoners' shortened sentences like Jones'.

"My understanding is it's a very intensive sort of treatment," Korte says. "They spend four hours a day in community therapy and then you work for the rest of the day. You're separated from the general population. The only reason that [Jones] would have changed his mind ... was that he didn't want to go through this drug treatment program."

Post by Hannah McBride.

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