President Obama is commuting the prison terms of eight people convicted on federal crack cocaine charges, saying they were punished under laws that permitted unfair sentencing disparities.
“In several cases, the sentencing judges expressed frustration that the law at the time did not allow them to issue punishments that more appropriately fit the crime,” Obama said in a statement.
One of those commuted — Reynolds Allen WintersmithJr. — is a cousin of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a long-time political supporter of Obama.
Officials said there was no contact between the Patrick and Obama administrations on the Wintersmith case.
Jesse Mermell, a spokesperson for Patrick, said the governor “doesn’t recall having met Mr. Wintersmith, and was not involved in any application for a commutation of his sentence. The governor only learned that Mr. Wintersmith’s sentence had been commuted through today’s media reports.”