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Tacoma man among those whose prison sentences Obama set aside

President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the briefing room at the White House, in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015.
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the briefing room at the White House, in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. AP

A Tacoma man was among 97 people serving prison sentences who received commutations or pardons Friday from President Barack Obama.

The president commuted the sentences of 95 prisoners and pardoned two more.

Chad Robert Latham of Tacoma received a commutation of his 2006 prison sentence, imposed after he was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and manufacturing marijuana.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The commutations, the most Obama has issued at one time, mostly benefit nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom are serving long sentences for cocaine and crack crimes.

Latham, who was 30 when he was sentenced, was arrested in March 2004 with more than 2,000 marijuana plants at a South Tacoma warehouse, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.

In addition to the commutations, Obama is pardoning an Ohio man sentenced to probation in a counterfeiting case and a Virginia woman sentenced to home detention and supervised release in a bank fraud case.

“The president’s decision today to commute the prison terms of 95 individuals is another sign of this administration’s strong commitment to ensuring fairness in the criminal justice system,” deputy attorney general Sally Yates said in a statement.

The move comes amid a bipartisan push to ease steep punishment for nonviolent offenders. As part of that effort, the Justice Department in April 2014 announced new criteria designed to encourage additional prisoners to apply for clemency.

Though advocates praised that move, the number of prisoners granted clemency since then has been fewer than what they had hoped.

Julie Stewart, the president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, said in a statement after Friday’s announcement that the “work is not done.”

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