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Ex-'Crack King' of Oakland Looks Ahead After Obama Clemency

In the late 1980s, Darryl Reed was one of the most powerful drug dealers in the California Bay Area

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    Once known as the "crack king" of Oakland, Darryl Reed officially became a free man Wednesday night after he and 110 others were granted clemency by President Barack Obama in September. Cheryl Hurd reports. (Published Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016)

    Once known as the "crack king" of Oakland, Darryl Reed officially became a free man Wednesday night after he and 110 others were granted clemency by President Barack Obama in August.

    Reed had been living under home confinment until Wednesday. In his first Bay Area interview since being in prison for 26 years, he spoke with NBC Bay Area on a wide range of subjects.

    First, he wanted it known that his street name, Lil' D, is behind him. Then, after briefly acknowledging his past, he talked about the future.

    "I don’t care what the district attorneys try to tell the public. Don’t nobody deserve to do 30 to 40 years for selling no drugs," said Reed, who served 26 years of a 35-year sentence for manufacturing, possessing and selling crack cocaine. "I’m going to take the negative about my journey and turn it into a positive."

    With his limited freedom so far, Reed seems to be doing just that, donating toys to kids in Oakland this Christmas.

    Twenty-eight years ago, he was a very different man. In the late 1980s, Reed became one of the most powerful drug dealers in the Bay Area, at 20 years old.

    Today, he wants to make a difference.

    "The things that I went through that got me where I'm at now are giving me the tools to take my life story and share it with the world," he said.

    The Obama White House said Reed and the 110 others whose sentences were commuted with him were sentenced under outdated laws to unduly long prison terms. Inmates applying for a reduced sentence must be nonviolent. 

    "We must remember that these are individuals -- sons, daughters, parents, and in many cases, grandparents -- who have taken steps toward rehabilitation and who have earned their second chance," White House Counsel Neil Eggleston wrote at the time

    Former prosecutor Rus Giuntini contends that Reed’s early release was inappropriate, saying the president’s decision to cut Reed's sentence short was like commuting a sentence for Al Capone.

    Reed said he doesn’t care what Giuntini thinks, and that he spent nearly 30 years behind bars "for a drug charge."

    "First offender," Reed said. "So for him to question the decision the chief of us makes, it sounds like it’s something personal with him."