Pubdate: Tue, 11 Jul 2000
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2000 Times Newspapers Ltd
Contact:  PO Box 496, London E1 9XN, United Kingdom
Fax: +44-(0)171-782 5046
Author: Ian Brodie


PRESIDENT CLINTON has released from prison four women convicted of
drug crimes who received harsher sentences than men involved in their

The President felt that the women, all first-time offenders, had
served a disproportionate amount of time and granted them clemency.

Mr Clinton's action highlighted growing concerns among politicians,
judges, penal activists and families of inmates that conspiracy laws
passed by Congress in the 1980s imposing long mandatory sentences in
the "war on drugs" are unfair.

Serena Nunn, 30, was stunned to be let out of prison after serving ten
years of a 14-year drug sentence. She said: "I thought they were
joking with me at first . . . right after that, the tears just started

Ms Nunn had been drawn into a cocaine ring in Minnesota by her
boyfriend. Many of the ring's members cooperated with authorities and
received reduced sentences - one of the leaders served seven years -
but she refused to inform on the boyfriend.

Judge David Doty, who sentenced her, wrote a three-page letter to Mr
Clinton supporting clemency. He said that Ms Nunn, while obviously
guilty of a crime, did not deserve the severe penalty he had been
required to impose under the sentencing guidelines. Speaking for his
fellow federal judges, he said: "It happens not daily but weekly that
we are giving sentences in drug cases that are horrendous. None of us
are happy with mandatory minimums."

Amy Pofahl, 40, another set free by Mr Clinton, was married to a
Dallas businessman who ran a syndicate that made and distributed the
drug Ecstasy. She claimed she was unaware of her husband's illegal
activities until his arrest, but her handling of their finances led to
her indictment. She was jailed for 24 years without parole while he
received three years probation. She had served nearly ten years of her
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