The parents of a prisoner whose sentence was commuted by former President Clinton were at the airport Sunday night to express thanks to Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson for his efforts in behalf of their son.
Burton and Carol Stringfellow say more than anybody else, Anderson fought to get their son's 15-year drug sentence reduced.
"It's been the fulfillment of an impossible dream," said Burton Stringfellow, who greeted Anderson as the mayor returned from a Washington, D.C., lobbying trip. "It's been such a heavy burden lifted, and it was Rocky who stood up for Cory as if he was his own son."
Cory Stringfellow, 31, was among 35 inmates whose prison sentences were commuted by Clinton during his last hours in office.
Utah's two Republican senators also had lobbied on Stringfellow's behalf.
But the Salt Lake couple say it was Anderson who waged a personal, and sometimes lonely, crusade for three years against what they describe as unreasonably long prison terms for drug offenders.
That campaign continued last week as Anderson went to Washington, D.C., and publicly asked Clinton to grant clemency for Stringfellow and what might be hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders.
At a Washington news conference, Anderson said federal sentencing guidelines require severe punishments for minor drug violations.
Anderson said presidential clemency could help to change those guidelines. According to Anderson's statement, "Many politicians excuse their earlier use of drugs as 'youthful indiscretions' yet thousands of individual lives and families have been destroyed for making similar mistakes and getting caught."
Anderson was the main speaker at a news conference called by clergy, policy groups and parents of nonviolent drug offenders.
He specifically called for a pardon for Cory Stringfellow, who was sentenced to more than 15 years in a federal penitentiary for drug crimes he committed in his teens and early 20s. He was convicted of selling LSD and fleeing to England.
Anderson said that Stringfellow has more than paid his debt to society by serving five years in prison, completing a drug program and earning a master's degree.
"We believe that Cory deserved to be punished, and Cory believed that he should be punished," Burton Stringfellow said. "Our issue is . . . the amount of punishment."
When their son is released, the Stringfellows expect he will pursue a career in information technology. And will struggle for the rights of prisoners in his spare time.
"He wants to serve those who are still on the inside, serving unjustly long sentences," Stringfellow said.