LOS ANGELES - "I thought I’d never see my mother again" says a teary Jammie Pineda. Her mother, 61-year-old Terri Kelly, chimes in via Facetime, adding, "I feel so blessed, that God touched President Biden’s heart and gave me this chance".
Kelly is among a handful of people from Southern California, serving long sentences for drug-related crimes, who have just had their sentences commuted by President Joe Biden. In 2009, she pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams of methamphetamine, when she shipped the drug to someone in Kentucky. In the middle of a big addiction problem, she already had one prior, and was sentenced to 20 years.
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"I had to have consequences for my actions" she explains, saying the time allowed her to work on herself and find what was important in her life — her family.
At the same time, she says there are many women behind bars, serving "excessively long sentences" even though they are "good people who need to b with their families".
The sentence has been commuted to expire on August 24th. Kelly says the first thing she will do once she's out is visit her mother, who just turned 81. The commutation does leave intact the terms of her release — 10 years of supervision.
"I am blessed." she says.