On Monday, Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas celebrated Barack Obama’s commutation of his mother’s 2000 sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base.
Thomas’ mother, Katina Stuckey Smith, applied for and received a commutation along with 45 other jailed drug offenders. Obama issued a form letter to the recipients that said, in part, “I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around.” No reference in the letter mentioned what particulars of the recipient’s actions triggered the successful attempt at commutation. He reminded the convicts that “you have the capacity to make good choices.”
Smith, 42, who acted as the banker for her mother, Minnie Pearl Thomas, 59, as they ran a crack cocaine organization, wins release from prison in Tallahassee, Florida, on November 10, the week the Broncos play the Kansas City Chiefs.
The three-time Pro Bowler, currently involved in a contract impasse with Denver, expressed his joy on Facebook, posting, “God is good. Great news today, My Best lady come home November 10.. Godbless..”
Smith had the chance to avoid going to prison if she accepted a plea deal and testified against her mother, which she refused to do. Instead, she was sentenced to 24 years in prison in 2000; the sentence was reduced in 2008 to 20 years. Because the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s guidelines for drug offenders were softened in 2014, Smith was eligible for an application for commutation. Thomas, who had been arrested three times on drug charges starting in 1986, had no such eligibility. She was arrested again in 1991 and 2000. The last arrest triggered two life sentences, with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
Obama has issued 90 commutations during his presidency. The White House released a statement from Neil Eggleston, counsel to the president, who chortled, “Tune in tomorrow as the President shares additional thoughts on how, working together, we can bring greater fairness to our criminal justice system while keeping our communities safe in an address to the NAACP.”