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'It's a miracle': Baltimore man's life prison sentence commuted on President Donald Trump's last day in office

Posted at 8:57 PM, Jan 20, 2021

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.

For Kevin Moses, that light has never shined brighter.

Moses’ brother, Jawad Musa, was among 143 people included in president Trump’s pardons and commutations issued on his last day in office.

“It’s a miracle,” Moses said. “It’s been real hard. Real hard.”

Moses said this is a moment their mother almost didn’t get the chance to see because of her battle with COVID-19.

“She was brain dead for six minutes,” he said. “She came out of that, now she’s good. Maybe God had another plan that her son was going to come home.”

In 1991, Musa was sentenced to prison after a drug bust involving a confidential informant. The judge gave him a mandatory life sentence because he had two prior convictions.

It was a sentence that would not hold up today under the First Step Act, which is a 2018 law that’s reduced mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenses.

“If Jawad had gotten a gun and killed somebody and gotten the average federal sentence for murder, he would have been out a decade ago,” Musa’s attorney John Gleeson explained about why his sentence was unfair.

Gleeson, who is also a former judge, took on Musa’s case as of part of his initiative called the Holloway Project. The project works to reduce mandatory prison sentences for non-violent offenses like Musa.

The project was named after Francois Holloway—a man Gleeson put a way for 57 years during his time as a judge. Gleeson later helped free Holloway because he believed the sentence was too harsh for the crime he committed.

Gleeson said Musa’s commutation came when someone on behalf of the president reached out to him to see if he knew anyone that should be released. He said Musa immediately came to mind.

“Jawad Musa in such an important way personifies where we went wrong 30 years ago,” he said. “We recognize as a system we got overly punitive. We overly incarcerated...there needs to be more sentencing reductions”

Marisa Taney, who worked with Gleeson on Musa’s case, said she was happy to learn of Musa’s release.

“We are so glad he is finally able to make use of all of the skills he worked so hard to build up,” she said.

Moses said Musa was released from a Colorado prison Wednesday evening.

He said the two will be back in Baltimore Thursday morning, where he is set to begin a new chapter in his life.

Moses said he couldn’t wait to give him a hug that’s been 30 years in the making.

“Smiles and the tears. I’m trying to hold them in until I grab him,” he said with a smile. “Then, I think everything is going to breakdown.”