President Obama said Friday that he will shorten the prison sentence of a Minnesota drug kingpin serving life in a federal penitentiary, part of another round of clemency for nonviolent drug offenders.
In 1990, a federal court in Minnesota found Sherman Ray Meirovitz, now 73, guilty of trying to purchase two kilograms — about four pounds — of cocaine from undercover federal agents. The FBI identified Meirovitz as a major dealer with Colombian connections who was operating a multimillion-dollar narcotics ring from Minnesota to Denver.
Meirovitz had two prior convictions at the time. Under a newly enacted federal law, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, he was sentenced to two mandatory life sentences.
He is in a federal prison in Arkansas. Obama’s commutation will allow for his release on June 3, 2017.
Meirovitz is one of 42 inmates for whom Obama announced commutations Friday, continuing a streak of clemency for nonviolent inmates sentenced under stiff war-on-drugs-era penalties. Of those who received commutations this round, 20 were serving life sentences.
During his time in office, Obama has commuted sentences for 348 inmates, considerably more than any recent predecessors, garnering praise from criminal justice reformers.
“It just doesn’t make sense to require a nonviolent drug offender to serve 20 years, or in some cases, life, in prison,” Obama said in a May statement after commuting 58 sentences.