Obama commutes sentences for 5 from Michigan

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — President Barack Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of 102 prisoners, including five from Michigan.

■Christopher Steven Bowen, 40, of Kalamazoo was given a life sentence and 10 years’ probation in 2005 for conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base in the Western District of Michigan. His sentence was commuted to roughly 22 years in prison. The unpaid balance of his $6,000 fine would be remitted. He’s currently at a high-security prison in Pollock, Louisiana.

■Alonzo Devon Campbell, 31, of Bay City was sentenced in 2008 to 20 years in prison and eight years’ probation for distribution of 5 or more grams of cocaine base in the Eastern District of Michigan. His sentence was commuted to expire Oct. 6, 2018, on the condition that he enrolls in a residential drug treatment program. He is at a federal prison in Sumpterville, Florida.

■Dameon Russell, 42, of Saginaw was sentenced in 2013 to 17 years in prison and six years’ probation in the Eastern District for possession, distribution and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 grams or more of cocaine base. He had been previously sentenced for violating his probation. His term was commuted to 14 years in prison. Russell is currently at the penitentiary in Milan.

■James A. Stone, 46, of Detroit was sentenced to life in prison in 2000 for possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, possession and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base; and aiding and abetting in the Eastern District of Kentucky. Stone’s term was commuted to about 22 years imprisonment. He’s currently at Leavenworth prison in Kansas.

■Lawrence Kemp Tennille, 49, of Detroit was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 in the Eastern District of Kentucky for conspiracy with intent to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base. Tennille, who is currently at the McKean prison in Lewis Run, Pennsylvania, would now serve a 30-year term.

Obama has issued 774 commutations while in office, the majority of which have gone to nonviolent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing rules.

The total of commutations is more than the last 10 presidents combined, according to the White House. Many of the commuted sentences have been life sentences.

“The department has made great progress reviewing applications under the president’s clemency initiative to correct unduly harsh and outdated drug sentences,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates said in a statement.

“President Obama has commuted 774 sentences, which is more than were commuted in the prior 66 years preceding his administration combined and we expect to continue to make history with additional commutations in the months ahead.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has said it is fast-tracking requests for commutations in drug-related cases involving nonviolent offenders who had served more than 10 years of their sentences and who under current sentencing guidelines would have received lesser sentences.

mburke@detroitnews.com

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