January 3

The Dec. 24 editorial “Insufficient mercy” should have been headlined “Insufficient facts.” While presidential commutation of Stephanie George’s prison sentence was a lawful, discretionary act, The Post misled readers by characterizing her sentence as “a life sentence for stashing her boyfriend’s drugs.”

Ms. George had been previously convicted in state court for crack cocaine distribution, yet she continued to be part of the crack distribution business in her community, ultimately leading to federal charges. She could have avoided or mitigated the extended sentence she received by cooperating with federal authorities. She refused to do so, went to trial and was convicted. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit affirmed her conviction and sentence. Her petition for habeas corpus relief was denied. Her prior convictions caused her to be considered a “career criminal” with a criminal history at the highest level under the federal sentencing guidelines. Federal law, as mandated by Congress, caused her drug distribution conviction, her third, to trigger a life sentence. 

Ms. George assisted in distributing highly addictive and destructive crack cocaine in the community in which she lived. That and the fact that a half-kilogram of cocaine and approximately $14,000 was hidden in her house resulted in her sentence. Congress decided that serious and determined sentencing was needed to stem the escalating use of crack and the deadly violence it brought about. It has.

Robert Gay Guthrie, Lake Ridge

The writer is president of the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys.