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Pensacola woman released from jail due to 'Smart on Crime' initiative
PENSACOLA -- PENSACOLA - The U.S. Justice Department is no longer pursuing mandatory minimum sentences for some low-level non-violent drug offenders.
President Obama has supported the Justice Department's 'Smart on Crime' initiative which could reduce the federal prison population by more than 6,500 inmates over the next 5 years.
Stephanie George had her life prison sentence reduced because of the move. She was released from prison last week.
Just a few months ago, Stephanie would have never imagined sitting in her mom's beauty shop, talking about her hair. That is exactly what she's doing now, thanks to the federal government's 'Smart on Crime' initiative started last year which reformed the nation's drug laws. Stephanie recalls the moment she learned from her attorney she was going home.
"I just wanted to tell you Obama signed your clemency this morning, and I was so ecstatic I couldn't even speak" said Stephanie George, Had her sentence commuted.
Stephanie was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 after her boyfriend's crack cocaine was found in her attic. Since she had prior drug convictions, the judge had to abide by the mandatory life sentence. The sentencing guidelines have since changed, and Stephanie and seven others had their sentences commuted this year.
"I don't think society is aware of how many people are locked up for non-violent offenses for very minor charges" said George.
With life in prison behind her, Stephanie's trying to make up for lost time.
"My daughter, she's 24, she was six when I left. My oldest son was 8 when I left, now he's 26" said George.
So much has changed in 17 years. Stephanie has lost loved ones including one of her sons. She is getting used to having grandchildren and using modern technology.
Rosa Albritton is also glad her daughter's back home, mostly because Stephanie's children can have their mom once again.
"To see her kids so happy because that has been a big toll on them" said Rosa Albritton, said Stephanie's mom.
In her spare time, Stephanie wants to reach out to the youth and talk to them about making good choices.