President Biden commutes the sentences of two Georgia women convicted of drug felonies

President Joe Biden has commuted the sentences of 31 people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes who were serving their sentences in home isolation, the White House announced on Friday.

Many would have received lesser sentences if charged with the same crime today because of changes in the law. A commutation sentence means they have to spend less time in isolation at home.

Two Georgia women were among those whose sentences were commuted by Biden. Lisa Gribble of LaFayette, Georgia was convicted of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Rebecca Lawrence of Omega, Georgia was convicted of conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine.

The conversions came as the White House announced a series of policies across 20 different agencies aimed at improving the criminal justice system, which disproportionately affects black and other non-white communities. The president announced his re-election campaign this week and needs to keep black voters in his coalition if he wants to win in 2024.

The plan aims to increase access to health care, affordable housing and education, and to improve access to jobs, higher education and the right to vote for those included in the system. Efforts include a plan to provide more grants for people who need funding for their education and loans for small businesses.

Those whose sentences were commuted included men and women convicted of drug possession in Iowa, Indiana, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii and Texas. They will all complete their sentences on June 30th. If someone is in prison, they’re released. Their sentence expires in domestic confinement and they don’t have to pay the rest of their fines, which range from $5,000 to $20,000.

Approximately 600,000 US citizens get out of prison each year, and another 9 million cycle in and out of prison. One in three Americans has a criminal record. This stigma can make it difficult to find a job, go back to school, or start a business.

“Far too many of them face huge hurdles when it comes to finding a job or housing, getting medical care, or finding the capital to start a business,” said outgoing domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, the first Person in charge of both national security and domestic policy Advisory positions in the White House. She is leaving her post after two years and her last day is May 26th.

“By investing in crime prevention and a more equitable criminal justice system, we can address the root causes of crime, improve outcomes for individuals and communities, and relieve the burden on police,” she said.

The Democratic President has so far commuted the sentences of 75 other people. He also pardoned thousands convicted under federal law of “simple possession” of marijuana and others who had long since served their sentences.

WABE News contributed to this report