Obama Saved Him, Dems Praised Him, Now He’s Headed Back To Jail
Alton Mills, a 54-year-old man whose life sentence in prison was commuted by then-President Barack Obama in 2015, is now facing more prison time after being charged with three counts of attempted murder.
But just seven years ago, Mills was a darling of Democrats in Congress, who portrayed him as an unjustly targeted victim with a tragic story.
On Tuesday, he was arrested in connection to a shooting on Interstate 57 in Posen, a town roughly 30 miles south of Chicago. Police responded to the scene and found a victim struck by gunfire in the back seat of a car who was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Mills' story began in 1993 when he was arrested on federal drug charges, leading the following year to a felony conviction, his third strike, resulting in a life sentence. For two of the convictions he was charged with possession of less than five grams of crack cocaine, and the third was for being part of a crack cocaine conspiracy.
Months later in December 2015, Obama granted Mills clemency and released him from prison after he had served 22 years, despite the nonviolent nature of his offenses. Since then he had worked as a mechanic for the Chicago Transit Authority and, according to some members of Congress, was "contributing to society".
After he was granted clemency, Mills became a poster child for Democrats in Congress who sought to highlight the unfairness of the system and sought prison reform.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., met with Mills shortly after he was released and posted a picture on Facebook of the two of them together, along with a statement. She argued that while criminals like Mills were punished severely for minor transgressions, people in more privileged positions were given much more lenient sentences, her message making Mills somewhat of a symbol for the cause.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., had sent Obama a letter asking him to commute Mills' sentence and shared his story multiple times on the Senate floor.
It now remains to be seen what comes of Mills' case this time round. Some say his history should be taken into consideration when his sentence is handed down.
The State's Attorney's office has yet to comment on the specific charges against Mills but said it is "prepared to present our case" and will work to ensure justice is carried out.
Mills remains in police custody without bond and it is unclear when he will face court.