ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Kirstie Smith-Israel was sentenced to 97 months in federal prison in 2017 on charges of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Tuesday, she was granted clemency by President Joe Biden.
Kirstie Smith-Israel’s 8-year-long prison sentence has been commuted. She’s now going to be released on April 26, 2023.
But technically she’s already home.
Smith-Israel was released to home confinement due to pre-existing health conditions and the threat of covid-19 in prison.
President Biden’s clemency list focused on non-violent drug offenders as part of the Biden administration’s push toward criminal justice system reform.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums President Kevin Ring said sentence commutation is not to be confused with a pardon.
“Clemency covers both commutations, which is a shortening of your sentence, and pardons, which means it’s usually somebody who’s already served their sentence, it’s the government saying ‘you’re forgiven’ and you can have all your rights back,” he said. “But commutations, there were 75 of those Tuesday. That’s what Kirstie received. That just shortens your sentence. It’s really powerful because so many of our drug sentencing laws are so excessive, it’s important that the President used his clemency authority to
commute sentences like Kirstie’s.”
Ring, who has worked alongside Smith-Israel during her incarceration, tells News 19 that several people on the president’s list also had health issues and concerns about COVID-19 in prison.
Ring said Smith-Israel can better monitor her health at home and she’s looking forward to the future.
“I think she’s excited and wants to know if it means she can really get on with her life just yet because the president commuted these sentences to a year from yesterday,” he said. “The question is, she’s already in home confinement, and so can she be completely free of that experience and just get to a less invasive form of monitoring? Because when you’re on home confinement, there’s still a lot of restrictions on what you can do, and your movement and traveling and all that sort of stuff. I think she’s just excited to get on with the next chapter of her life.”
Smith-Israel chose not to do an on-camera interview citing privacy concerns. However, she did send a statement to News 19.
“This clemency is truly an honor and I am so very grateful. I want to thank everyone that kept me in their prayers these past 5 years it’s been struggle, it’s been a lesson and it has been very humbling. If it wasn’t for this journey I wouldn’t be where or who I am today.”Kirstie Smith-Israel
Two additional Alabama residents were also granted clemency. A man from Maylene, and another man from Montgomery. They were also convicted on drug charges related to meth.