Clemency? Meh, no thanks.
A convicted drug dealer serving time in a Texas prison stands alone as the first inmate to reject President Obama’s sweeping commutation for narcotics offenders.
Arnold Ray Jones, 50, could have left a federal prison in Beaumont in two years under Obama’s order — even though he has six years left on his drug trafficking sentence. But he turned down his chance for freedom last week, according to USA Today — becoming the only offender to reject Obama’s mercy.
Brooklyn man one of 61 inmates granted clemency by President
President Obama has commuted 775 sentences by executive order, including 102 inmates just last week.
On the Department of Justice’s list of commuted inmates, Jones is the only one with a special citation: “condition declined, commutation not effectuated.”
But court records cited by USA Today said Jones used crack cocaine weekly before his arrest, and said he never found drug treatment programs helpful. His clemency would come on the condition that he complete a nine-month residential drug treatment program through the Bureau of Prisons.
Jones was sentenced in 2002 for drug trafficking. After saying no to Obama, the earliest he could get out — on good behavior — is April 2019, eight months after he could have walked free through clemency. Otherwise, he is scheduled for release in 2022.
Obama has taken unprecedented action in granting clemency to inmates, and in August issued the largest single-day grant in history — for 214 inmates.
But unlike pardons, which swiftly absolve crimes, Obama’s commutations come with strings attached — and with waiting periods. Nearly 100 of Obama’s grants have required drug treatment programs, with the promise of an early — but not immediate — release.