Woman Granted Clemency by Obama Is Back in Prison

Carol Denise Richardson was among 1.7K inmates freed during Obama's tenure
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2017 7:27 AM CDT
Woman Granted Clemency by Obama Is Back in Prison
Carol Denise Richardson could not kick her crack habit, her lawyer says.   (US District Court, Texas)

A Texas woman serving a life sentence for a relatively minor drug offense and given a second chance by President Obama is headed back to prison. Carol Denise Richardson, 49, was among hundreds of non-violent drug offenders granted clemency by Obama, who was persuaded by arguments from activists that drug laws were unfair, the Washington Post reports. They argued that defendants like Richardson found in possession of solid crack cocaine—in her case 50 grams—suffered unduly harsh sentences compared with those possessing powder cocaine, which weighs less and carries a lighter penalty. Richardson had served 10 years in prison when she was released in July 2016 as part of the largest prisoner release in US history.

But she lost her freedom when she was arrested for theft on April 13. Defense lawyer Mark Diaz tells the Houston Chronicle that Richardson couldn't kick her crack habit and had stolen $60 worth of laundry detergent that she planned to sell to buy drugs. The same federal judge who sent Richardson to prison in 2006 rejected her lawyer's plea for rehab last week, ordering Richardson back to the slammer for 14 months, followed by five years of supervised release. "This defendant was literally given a second chance to become a productive member of society and has wasted it," Assistant US Attorney Ted Imperato said, per the Chronicle. A drug offenders advocacy group counters that Richardson was never treated for her drug problem, saying, "the system has failed Carol, yet again." (One inmate turned down Obama's clemency offer.)

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