President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Alton Mills, who a top Democrat framed as a lowly drug courier, but court documents obtained by The Daily Caller paint a different picture.
Mills was commuted by Obama on Dec. 18, 2015 after serving 22 years in federal prison for four federal cocaine violations. Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin supported Mills request for clemency and has used Mills as an example of someone mistreated by the criminal justice system.
“An overlooked casualty in our ‘war on drugs’ are the men and women who have been convicted under disproportionately harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws. One such man is Alton Mills, who served more than two decades of a mandatory life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense, a punishment even the sentencing judge disagreed with,” Durbin said following Mills’ clemency.
He added, “I commend Alton for the bravery he has shown in choosing to tell his story, and I am honored to welcome him to Washington this week.”
Mills has written a letter, promoted by the ACLU, to House and Senate leaders telling his story. This story though is littered with inconsistencies.
“For two years, I worked as a drug runner and delivered crack cocaine and money for the drug ring’s leader,” he wrote in the letter. “I tried to make ends meet by working as a drug courier, earning only $300.00 a week.”
According to court documents, however, Mills was an integral part of an operation that on a “good day” could generate up to $24,836.78, adjusted for inflation. “Mr. Mills, [and three other individuals] were each involved in overseeing aspects of the street sales and in handling the cash proceeds,” the court opinion reads.
“Mr. Mills also described the scope of the crack cocaine operation in which he participated,” the opinion continues. “He described the procedures for transporting and delivering the drugs, the positions he held within the organization, the average daily sales, and the organization of the workers.”
Mills describes himself as a “low-level drug runner.”
However, “according to testimony presented at trial, Mr. Mills confessed that on May 11, 1993, while trying to elude police, he threw from his car a gym bag containing a half kilogram of crack cocaine,” which has an estimated value of roughly $93,000, inflation-adjusted.
The court also held Mills personally accountable for 20.5 kilograms of crack cocaine.
Mills, in his letter, continued to write, “what is even more ironic — I was the only one serving a life sentence… I was the least responsible person in the group, yet the one sentenced to the longest, harshest prison term.”
According to the court, “the district court conducted a sentencing hearing on July 14, 1994. Mr. Banks, Mr. Shipp, Mr. Dunlap, and Mr. Mills were each sentenced to life imprisonment.”