A man serving a life sentence for a drug-selling conspiracy in Rockford will be free this Spring. President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of eight people he says were serving overly-harsh sentences for drug crimes.
That includes Reynolds Wintersmith, Jr., who was sentenced 20 years ago under mandatory minimum guidelines, which are tougher on crack cocaine than powder cocaine. Molly Gill of the organization Families Against Mandatory Minimums says there are thousands of prisoners like Wintersmith:
The president said that he can only do so much, he can commute the sentences of someone like Reynolds Wintersmith so that young man doesn’t die in prison. But he can't can’t change the laws that put Reynolds Wintersmith in prison for life. Only Congress can do that.
Wintersmith’s conviction was his first offense. The sentence was increased under the mandatory minimum sentencing formula because he was also a gang member and there was a large amount of cocaine involved in the conspiracy.
Wintersmith was sentenced in 1994 when he was 20-years-old.