A former Alton woman who was convicted and sentenced in 2001 for selling cocaine has had her sentenced commuted by President Barack Obama. Eugenia Marie Jennings was sentenced to 22 years in jail ten years ago in the Southern District of Illinois, but the president signed an order allowing her to go free next month. Jennings will still have 8 years of supervised release.
Jennings was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, and is being treated at a prison hospital facility in Texas. She is scheduled to be released next month. Her case was taken up by a top Washington law firm, along with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, who appealed on her behalf, along with the group Families Against Mandatory Sentences. It claims Jennings was selling drugs to support her family and at one point traded drugs for clothing. Those supporting her release told a Congressional panel that she was the victim of a disparity in sentencing between those who sell crack cocaine and those who sell the powder form. Jennings was sentenced for selling 13.9 grams of crack cocaine to a police informant. President Obama pardoned five others on Monday, and pardoned eight others earlier this year.