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Drug dealer granted clemency by then-President Obama caught with backpack full of pills

By Stew Davidson
|
February 29, 2024

A man who was previously granted clemency by former President Barack Obama was recently re-incarcerated for possessing a large quantity of opioid pills.

In a turn of events that raises questions about the challenges of reintegration for formerly incarcerated individuals, Joseph Burgos, 74, finds himself back in prison. This comes after a significant reduction in his sentence by Obama in 2015, highlighting the complexities surrounding the clemency process and the war on drugs, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Unexpected turn for a man chasing redemption

Burgos, who has a history of drug trafficking, was given a new lease on life when Obama commuted his sentence along with those of others, aiming to address what many see as overly harsh penalties from the war on drugs era.

Despite this opportunity, Burgos struggled with his return to society, dabbling in various occupations and even pursuing his dream of becoming a novelist.

However, in 2019, DEA agents caught Burgos with nearly 2,000 oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl. This incident occurred while he was on supervised release, raising questions about the support systems in place for those granted clemency.

Burgos' recent arrest not only underscores the ongoing opioid crisis in America but also casts a shadow over the successes of Obama's clemency initiative.

This initiative was designed to give a second chance to non-violent, low-level offenders who were victims of the era's aggressive sentencing guidelines.

"Being released before your out date is beautiful. But I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t prepared for my release at all," Burgos shared with the Washington Post, reflecting on his initial release and the challenges he faced adapting to life outside prison walls.

A glimpse into the struggles of reintegration

After his release, Burgos attempted to rebuild his life, finding work as a home health worker and driving for Uber, though he was eventually unable to continue the latter due to licensing issues.

His attorney pointed out the financial struggles Burgos faced, which, while not justifying his actions, help understand the context of his decisions.

The story of Burgos is not unique, as another individual who received clemency from Obama found himself back in prison on serious charges.

This pattern raises questions about the efficacy of the criminal justice system in rehabilitating individuals and preventing recidivism.

Obama's clemency initiative was a beacon of hope for many, aiming to rectify the injustices of past drug policies.

However, cases like Burgos' suggest that the path to redemption is fraught with obstacles, and more needs to be done to support those looking to turn their lives around.

Towards a more supportive framework for reintegration

In the wake of such cases, there is a growing call for policy reforms and increased support for those exiting the prison system. Advocates argue for a more holistic approach to reintegration, one that goes beyond mere freedom and addresses the underlying issues that lead to recidivism.

The story of Joseph Burgos is a stark reminder of the long road ahead in reforming the criminal justice system and providing meaningful support to those seeking to rebuild their lives.

It is a call to action for policymakers, community leaders, and all stakeholders to work together towards a more just and supportive society.

Conclusion

  • Joseph Burgos, 74, was re-incarcerated for possessing a large quantity of opioid pills laced with fentanyl, despite being pardoned by former President Obama in 2015.
  • This incident highlights the challenges of reintegration for formerly incarcerated individuals and the complexities surrounding the clemency process.
  • The case underscores the ongoing opioid crisis in America and casts a shadow over the successes of Obama's clemency initiative.
  • The recurrence of incarceration among individuals who received clemency from Obama calls into question the efficacy of the criminal justice system in rehabilitating individuals and preventing recidivism.
  • There is a growing call for policy reforms and increased support for those exiting the prison system, advocating for a more holistic approach to reintegration.