McKinney Man Thanks President Obama for Pardon

This week, President Barack Obama reduced prison sentences for dozens of inmates.

A McKinney man was one of the first to have his time behind bars cut short by the president.

Jason Hernandez, 38, admits he sold crack cocaine in east McKinney in the mid-1990s. He was convicted for dealing drugs by a federal judge in 1998.

"What was I thinking?" Hernandez asked. "I mean, I thought I was bettering people's lives, when in reality I was destroying lives."

Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison.

"Shock, I just couldn't imagine that I was going to die in prison for drugs," he said. "I'm not saying what I did wasn't bad, but, and I shouldn't have been punished severely, but just to throw away my whole life and say that I was beyond redemption and never fit for society again was just so far from the truth."

In 2011, Hernandez sent Obama a letter asking him to commute his sentence. Two years later, he learned the request was granted.

"I just put my head in my lap and I just kept saying it's over, it's over, it's over," said Hernandez, who now lives back in McKinney.

He now has two jobs. One is with at-risk youth in Dallas. The other is as a welder, a trade he learned in an El Reno, Okla., prison.

It's the same prison Obama visited this week where he said he would push for reform in the criminal justice system.

"When I had heard he was going to El Reno, there was no place I would had rather been than El Reno just to shake his hand and to hug him and thank him and tell him how grateful I am," Hernandez said.

The president also announced another 46 drug offenders will have their sentences commuted, a process Hernandez is now days away from having behind him.

He will be on house arrest until Aug. 11. After that, he'll be a free man.

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