Northwest Indiana man gets clemency after 18 years in prison

Jail Cell
(WISH photo)

HIGHLAND, Ind. (AP) — A northwest Indiana man who served 18 years in prison on drug convictions has been spending time as a freed man after being granted clemency by President Barack Obama.

Fifty-year-old Reinaldo Arocho, a nonviolent drug offender, was sentenced to more than 32 years in prison in 2000. Arocho says he always held out hope that he’d be freed, and that he was a model inmate during his incarceration.

The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports there has been a cultural and political shift toward leniency in sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders since Arocho was sentenced, partly due to an increase in the U.S. prison population.

Highland defense attorney Kerry C. Connor requested a federal judge reduce his sentence in April 2009 based on Arocho’s exemplary behavior and changes made in crack-cocaine penalties.