Obama Commutes Texas Grandma's Prison Sentence, She's Back In Jail A Year Later

"The system has failed Carol, yet again."

By Eric Shorey

Carol Denise Richardson has been ordered to return to prison after repeatedly violating the conditions of her supervised release following the commuting of her sentencing by President Obama. According to Dallas News, she'll be back in jail for 14 months.

"This defendant was literally given a second chance to become a productive member of society and has wasted it," Assistant U.S. Attorney Ted Imperato said in a statement released by the office. "She has clearly shown a willful disregard for the law and must face the consequences for her crimes and actions."

Richardson had originally been convicted of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine, plus two counts of possession. She had faced a particularly harsh sentence due to her criminal record, which included two previous felony convictions in Galveston County for possession of a controlled substance and delivery of cocaine.

"My family had a petition signed by over 80 people in my small community that knew me before I started destroying my life by using drugs," Richardson had written in a 2012 plea that noted how she had received a more brutal sentence than her co-defendants, who were leaders of the scheme. "I am not a bad person when I am not using drugs or alcohol. The petition was placed in my file."

Richardson eventually became one of 61 inmates whose sentences were commuted in March of 2016.

Amongst the violations of Richardson's conditional release were an arrest for theft that went unreported to her probation officer, and a change in residency. Richardson had attempted to stay clean after her release but fell back into old habits as she lost touch with her family.

Richardson's situation, as described by prisoner advocacy group CAN-DO (who supported Richardson's requests for leniency), is "extremely rare." Founder of CAN-DO, Amy Povah, said that she was aware of only one other person amongst those freed by Obama who returned to prison.

"The system has failed Carol, yet again," CAN-DO said in a statement posted on its website. "It will be easy for some to point a finger at Carol and justify their support of harsh mandatory sentences as a necessity to keep people locked up, when we feel Carol's current situation is proof that we desperately need to overhaul our current drug policy that treats addiction as a criminal issue, rather than a medical issue."

When she is eventually released again, Richardson will be under supervision for an additional five years. Rehab will be part of her sentencing.

[Photo: Texas Federal Court]

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