University of Kansas

Jamari Traylor’s father has prison sentence commuted by President Barack Obama

Jamari Traylor, left, shown at approximately 6 years old with his father, Jessie, and his brother, Jamani.
Jamari Traylor, left, shown at approximately 6 years old with his father, Jessie, and his brother, Jamani.

Jessie Traylor, the father of former Kansas basketball player Jamari Traylor, has received a commutation of his sentence from President Barack Obama.

Traylor, who was arrested in 2008 and later received a life sentence in 2010 for a nonviolent drug crime, had that term shortened to 20 years on Tuesday as part of a round of commutations and pardons from Obama during his last week in office.

Attorney Carl Folsom III, who wrote up Traylor’s clemency petition and made the legal argument on his behalf, learned of the news Tuesday afternoon.

“Knowing that he’s going to get out of prison in a few years, whereas before, there was absolutely no hope ... it’s really, really satisfying to know that we had a part of that,” Folsom said.

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With expected good-time credit taken off, Traylor’s new sentence means he could be released by 2025. Folsom said many former drug offenders also spend the final six to 12 months in halfway houses, meaning there’s a possibility Traylor could be outside prison walls by 2024.

The Star outlined Traylor’s clemency request last month. In 2008, he was found to have approximately one kilogram — or about two pounds — of cocaine in his backpack while serving as a drug courier. Because he’d had two prior nonviolent drug convictions, the mandatory minimum sentence for his crime was life in prison. Under current law, he’d likely have a mandatory-minimum sentence of around 10 years instead of life.

Back in December, Traylor’s petition was one of 13,000 that was still pending with the Office of the Pardon Attorney.

Jesse Newell: 816-234-4759, @jessenewell

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