Amarillo man among hundreds granted clemency


AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - 231 Federal inmates were granted Clemency nationwide by President Obama, one from here in Amarillo.

Marcus Diaz of Amarillo was sentenced to 21 years in prison after being charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture of methamphetamine.

He is just one of 26 Texans now granted clemency, allowing them to get out earlier.

Obama granted 78 pardons and 153 commutations on Monday, a record for the use of presidential clemency power. Some will be allowed a shorter sentence, while others will have their slate wiped clean.

Many of these clemencies granted are for inmates with drug offenses. And lawyer Ryan Brown says many of these sentences were a sign of the times.

"People that were sentenced 5-10 years ago got much more time than people that would be sentenced today and I just think that's unfair," says Brown.

Many believe this mass clemency is due to pressure from criminal justice reform advocates for Obama to do more for inmates before he leaves office. Some say those advocates fear the new administration will scale back or eliminate the use of presidential clemency.

"I hope things speed up, because it's not going to be a friendly environment with the new administration, so I think it's the right thing to do and I hope that some more clemencies get granted," says Brown.

But those who oppose the practice say allowing this "mass forgiveness" to happen puts the public in danger. In fact, one Senator said, "The president is playing a dangerous game to advance his political ideology."

Others remain optimistic.

"It's where you want to put your government resources and your tax money. Do you want to pay to house people that aren't really violent, that aren't threats to society, or do you want to move along, save money and focus on people that really need to be behind bars?"

To see the full list of those pardoned, click here.

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