by Dr. Boyce Watkins, KultureKritic.com
Clarence Aaron went to prison in 1993, at the age of 23. He was involved in a drug deal, but was neither the buyer nor the seller. He didnâ€™t touch the drugs or collect any money. All he did was introduce the two men involved in the transaction and it has cost him his life.
Aaron didnâ€™t plead guilty when he was arrested, largely because he didnâ€™t believe he did anything wrong. Because of this, he received three life sentences. Neither Presidents Bush nor Clinton chose to commute the incredibly long sentence given to a young man who was in college and had no criminal record.
An investigation by the website ProPublica finds that the Bush White House was never given all the facts on Aaronâ€™s case. This leaves it up to President Obama to decide if Aaron should be allowed to go free.
Mandatory minimum sentences were imposed under the regime of the late Ronald Reagan and his War on Drugs. Seth Ferranti, a long time prisoner who writes for TheFix.com, says that President Obama â€śwas critical of the mandatory minimum drug penalties, and talked about second chancesâ€ť while campaigning for office, â€śYet he is on track to be the least forgiving President in US history.â€ť
â€śHe has pardoned just 23 people, including one commuted sentence,â€ť says Ferranti, who was also convicted for drugs. â€śHis current pace puts him firmly among the most conservative American Presidents to use these powers. So much for second chances.â€ť
Aaronâ€™s case has now gotten more attention after various journalists have profiled him in national media outlets. But there are other inmates, such as Rodney Stanberry in Alabama and Mario Lloyd in Illinois, whose cases still donâ€™t get the attention they deserve. In fact, there are thousands of men, mostly black and brown, who received several life sentences for very simple crimes, while their foreign â€śconnectsâ€ť who imported billions of dollars worth drugs were given very light sentences.