President Obama commutes sentences of 46 convicts, including north Alabama man

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By Nancy Benac
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is cutting the prison sentences of 46 convicts as part of a broader effort to make the criminal justice fairer and ease the punishment of those serving more time than their crimes warranted.

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president has now issued nearly 90 commutations, most of them to non-violent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing rules.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. Several of those granted clemency Monday had been sentenced to life in prison.

President 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.

Of the 46 convicts, Robert Joe Young is from Joppa, Alabama, a small community situated between Marshall and Cullman counties.  He was convicted in December 2002 of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine; possession with the intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine; use of a firearm during and in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; possession with the intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing cocaine; carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime; endeavoring to influence and impede the administration of justice (Northern District of Alabama).

Young was sentenced to 240 months in prison and five years supervised release.  He was set to finish his prison term on November 10, 2015.