*Friends, family and associates are celebrating the news that on Friday (01-15-21), former record industry executive/promoter Bill Underwood was granted a compassionate release from prison after 33 years due to the COVID19 pandemic. Underwood was sentenced in 1990, as part of the first round of drug convictions made under the newly enacted federal Sentencing Guidelines of 1987 and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. He received (3) mandatory minimum sentences of 20 years on drug conspiracy charges, plus a 4th charge — a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Underwood’s defenders point out that the four charges comprise his first and only felony conviction and note the life without parole sentence was the result of a decision, not made by his jury at trial, but rather by his judge who was bound by the mandatory Sentencing Guidelines, at his sentencing hearing.
As we noted up top, Underwood also had a career as a key entertainment figure. Explaining how her father ended up being imprisoned, in a petition at Change.org, here is what Ebony Underwood wrote:
“Although he once was a part of the negativities of drug street life culture, Dad had moved beyond that lifestyle and positioned himself legitimately in the music industry as a highly regarded manager, publisher and advisor who was in constant demand by recording artists, record labels, and Hollywood actors requesting his expertise. Indeed, his involvement in criminal activity had ended years before his arrest, as evidenced by the fact that the FBI closed an investigation of him in 1986 ‘due to lack of activity.’ However, 2 years later, in 1988, he was arrested and charged with a continuing leadership role in a narcotics conspiracy, despite being engaged in a full-time career in the music industry.”
News of Underwood’s release was first posted online by his attorney Nkechi Taifa via the JusticeRoundtable website:
“The Underwood Family has been waiting for this moment for over three decades. For the past ten years we waged a vigorous campaign, successfully galvanizing a groundswell of support from the public, along with professionals in the music and entertainment industries, scholars, civil rights and conservative leaders, formerly incarcerated mentees, and over 70,000 signatures calling for his release in an online petition. Although no one could have predicted a health pandemic, we were primed when the opportunity, however horrifying, arose, to file a motion for compassionate release in court.:
Attorney Taifa had that and a LOT MORE to say. Read it all, HERE at JusticeRoundtable.org.