Obama frees 2 Alaskan inmates

Two Alaskans are among dozens of federal inmates who will be freed decades early, the White House announced.  President Obama today commuted the sentences of Alex Contreras of Anchorage and Raymond Allen Thomas of Fairbanks.

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Contreras was sentenced to 40 years in 2002 for multiple drug and gun-possession charges. He was 19 at the time. News accounts of his sentencing say his convictions relate to his role in an Anchorage drug ring that sold crack and powdered cocaine.

Thomas was in his 50s when he was convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to sell in 2005. The Fairbanks Daily News Miner says the case against Thomas arose from a kilo of cocaine that was sent in the mail, disguised as a Christmas present. He was originally sentenced to 22 years.

The sentences for both Alaskans are now to end on April 16.

In all, Obama commuted sentences for 95 convicts.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.

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