Youngstown woman gets early prison release

Staff report


President Barack Obama has commuted the federal prison term of a Youngstown woman who was sentenced in 2005 on a drug charge.

Shauna Barry Scott, who was convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base and sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment and 10 years of supervised release, will be released from prison Nov. 10, per her request.

Obama said Monday he was ending the punishments of 46 convicts, including Barry Scott, as part of a broader effort to make the criminal justice system fairer and ease the punishment of those serving more time than their crimes warranted.

The president has issued nearly 90 commutations, most of them to nonviolent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing rules. A commutation leaves the conviction in place but ends the punishment.

Several of those whose sentences were commuted Monday had been sentenced to life in prison.

Obama this week is devoting considerable attention to the criminal justice system. He’ll lay out ideas for how to improve the fairness of the system during a speech today. And, on Thursday, he’ll become the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.

“While I expect the president will issue additional commutations and pardons before the end of his term, it is important to recognize that clemency alone will not fix decades of overly punitive sentencing policies,” said Neil Eggleston, White House counsel.

In the mid-1990s, Shauna Barry Scott and her husband, Lester Scott, claimed to be anti-drug activists whose Dare to Dream Foundation helped inner-city youths.

The image cracked in 1995, when Lester Scott was convicted of a drug charge, and again in 1999, when he got an 18-month prison term based on cocaine possession and illegal food-stamp use.

Also, in December 1999, his wife got 10 days in jail and four years’ probation for perjury and illegal food-stamp use.

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