In 1993 Norman Brown was told he would die behind bars.
He was among 17 people found guilty of distributing crack cocaine after an FBI sting that involved tapping drug dealers’ phones.
Due to a previous minor offence with two criminal counts he was sentenced to life without parole.
Even the judge said the punishment was too harsh but his hands were tied by mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
Then last July Brown walked free after being granted clemency by Barack Obama.
And on Wednesday the US president commuted the sentences of a further 61 drug offenders.
In all he has now commuted 248 sentences – more than the previous six presidents combined.
‘It does not make sense for a non-violent drug offender to be getting 20 years – 30 years – in some cases life in prison’ Obama said at a lunch with some of the former inmates.
‘That’s not serving anybody.
That’s not serving taxpayers.
It’s not serving public safety.
And it’s damaging families’.
Such words strike a chord with Brown (48) who lost his mother father brother and grandmother during his incarceration and missed his daughter’s entire childhood (he is separated from her mother but on friendly terms).
He recently told his story to the Guardian.