Obama commutes Kalamazoo convict’s life sentence

An undated courtesy photo of Christopher Steven Bowen.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Mac Jones figured his stepson would die in prison for his role in a cocaine conspiracy.

That is, after all, what a federal judge ordered for Christopher Steven Bowen — no different than a sentence for premeditated murder. But, Bowen’s stepfather learned Saturday that President Barack Obama had commuted the sentence, cutting it to a little more than 20 years in federal prison instead of life without parole.

Bowen was among the 102 federal prisoners whose sentences were trimmed by Obama on Thursday — all of them convicted of drug-related crimes.

“I appreciate Obama cutting the sentence, but I would like to have seen more cut,” Jones said. “I guess I’m greedy.”

Mac Jones said he knows what his stepson did was wrong — but not “life-in-prison” wrong.

“You do the crime, you pay for it,” he said.

Bowen was 29 at the time, convicted in a crack cocaine conspiracy that worked out of a home he rented from his stepfather in Kalamazoo. The feds say Bowen was not the leader, but witnesses testified he helped cook and sell the crack, according to court records.

“He would let his friends operate out of the house,” his stepfather said.

The Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team busted the ring in 2005. They raided homes, found crack cocaine and guns. In Bowen’s home, they found drug paraphernalia and a handgun, but no drugs.

Because Bowen already had three drug convictions in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court, he got life without parole in the federal cocaine conspiracy case.

“Our laws are designed to get the little guy,” his stepfather said. “They’re not getting the people who are bringing the drugs into the country. They’re not getting the people that are really making a fortune on drugs. They’re getting the little guy spending $1,000 hoping to make $2,000.”

Bowen, now 40, has spent the last 11 years appealing, on his own, from federal prison.

Bowen’s stepfather said Obama should have ordered his stepson’s immediate release.

“I’ll try to give him credit, but I really think if he had taken time to look at these people’s situations, he’d have done something real constructive because he’s still going to end up doing over 20 years,” he said.

“He could have done more, he should have done more and this is his last hurrah and he knows those sentences are unfair.”

Bowen’s new release date is Sept. 15, 2023.