Barack Obama has been (somewhat notoriously) light on pardons and commutations of sentence throughout his administration. As of March he had only granted 70 pardons (the lowest since John Adams), and 180 commutations, a record that the Washington Post speculated might earn him the legacy of “one of the most merciless presidents in history.” I supposed you could argue that if he did extend mercy to those incarcerated at the hands of a ridiculously punitive justice system he might get a reputation for being “soft on crime,” and then he might not get elected again… for a third term?
It’s some small comfort however that Obama is on a bit of a spree during his final months as President, recently bringing his record up to 673 commutations and providing a light at the end of the tunnel for a number of non-violent drug offenders, including Timothy Tyler, who was busted in 1994 for selling pot and acid to an undercover cop and sentenced to life. He’s been in jail for 22 years. His sister has been fighting for his freedom, collecting over 423,000 names on his behalf—from her petition:
My brother Timothy Tyler was just 25 years old when he was sentenced to die in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. He’s watched murderers and rapists leave prison while he has no chance of ever leaving. He is now 45 years old and I want to bring him home. Timothy was a young Grateful Dead fan, who in May of 1992, sold pot and LSD to a friend who turned out to be a police informant. He had never been to prison before, but a judge was forced to give him double life without the possibility of parole because of two prior drug convictions — even though both those convictions resulted in probation.
Tyler’s case was followed pretty closely by activists against mandatory minimums and long sentencing, likely at least partially because as a Deadhead he’s a poster boy for non-violent offenders. After growing up with an abusive stepfather, he saw his first Grateful Dead show at 17, and began following the band and and doing acid fairly regularly. Tyler also dealt with bipolar disorder and psychotic episodes, at times believing Jerry Garcia was God, and once ending up in a psych ward for trying to build a dam naked on the side of an Arizona highway. In prison he became a vegetarian, and though he previously dated women, he began having sex with other inmates to escape the isolation and oppressive claustrophobia of prison.
He is set to be released in August of 2018, where he will be required to spend nine months in a residential drug treatment program, after which his mother and sister will be his support network.
Via Death and Taxes