Woman granted clemency in 2016 wants to tell Obama she made honor roll
© Getty Images

An inmate who was granted clemency by former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBill Maher, Isiah Thomas score over the NFL's playing of 'Black national anthem' Democrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' White House debates vaccines for air travel MORE in 2016 said she wants to let him know that she is now enrolled in college and made the honor roll.

Danielle Metz said she would like to tell Obama: “You don't know what you did for me. I’m finally coming into my own. I made the honor roll.”


When she was 26, Metz received three life sentences, plus an additional 20 years in federal prison, for the role she played in her husband’s cocaine distribution, according to an interview with The Hechinger Report published by USA Today on Monday.

Her husband ran a drug distribution ring that distributed more than 1,000 kilos of cocaine and killed 23 rivals, according to federal prosecutors.

Metz, a beauty school student at the time, said her husband did not like it when she left the house. She stayed at home and raised her children, without a Social Security number or any opportunity for gainful employment.

But she also delivered a few packages to Houston with her aunt when her husband asked her to. He and members of his crew were indicted in 1992. Metz was arrested in 1993.

She was never found in possession of any drugs and was never implicated in any violence. Believing her husband’s involvement was minimal, she said she expected a warning from prosecutors.

But a jury found her guilty and she was sentenced to prison 

“I hope that by the sentence you receive, others who might be tempted to follow your path of crime will have second thoughts,” U.S. District Judge A.J. McNamara told her. 

Shortly before her sentencing, then-President Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, written by then-Sen. Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE (D-Del.), which banned incarcerated people from using needs-based Pell Grants to pay for college. 

Metz spent her time in prison taking computer classes and general education classes, earning her GED in 1996 at the Federal Correctional Institute in Dublin, Calif.

“I never thought I'd be in prison serving a life sentence, but I am, and I never thought I would get my GED, but I did,” she wrote in her journal at the time. “Now I'm in prison fighting, trying to win my freedom back. I don't know how I will do it. All I know is it will be done.”

Obama repeatedly denounced long sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders and granted clemency more times than any of the previous 10 presidents.

He also authorized a pilot program to allow a number of incarcerated students to use Pell Grants to pay for college. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in April introduced a bill that would make the program permanent, according to The Hechinger Report.

In 2016, Obama released Metz after 23 years in prison.

She returned to New Orleans and was hired by Catholic Charities for an AmeriCorp job packing food boxes for low-income senior citizens. She was given a stipend and a $2,200 scholarship for her education.

At the age of 50, Metz entered Southern University of New Orleans, studying to become a social worker. She made the dean’s list with a 3.75 grade point average.

“Now here I am outside in society living my best life,” Metz told a group of graduates in January. “I love the fact that I can just ride down the streets of New Orleans and get me a hot sausage sandwich or yaki mein. But what I value most is my education.”

Obama’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.