Crime & Courts

Obama commutes sentences of 2 Charlotteans convicted of crack crimes

President Obama commuted the sentences of two people from Charlotte who had been convicted on crack-cocaine charges.

Jerry Allen Bailey was sentenced to 30 years in prison in April, 1996, after being convicted of conspiracy to violate narcotics laws (crack). Telisha Rachette Watkins was sentenced to 240 years in prison after an Oct., 2007, conviction for the same charge.

The sentences for both will expire on Nov. 10, according to a news release from the White House.

Bailey and Watkins were two of 46 nonviolent drug offenders whose sentences were commuted by Obama on Monday. In a speech in Philadelphia, the president said he hopes the effort will be one prong of a broader push to make the criminal justice system fairer while saving the government money.

Fourteen of those whose sentences were commuted had been sentenced to life in prison and the vast majority to at least 20 years, the president said in a video released by the White House, adding that "their punishments didn't fit the crime."

"These men and women were not hardened criminals," he said, promising to lay out more ideas on criminal justice changes during a speech to the NAACP on Tuesday in Philadelphia. The Associated Press contributed.

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