President Obama Commutes More Sentences Than Last 10 Presidents Combined
As of September 1, 2016, President Obama commuted the sentences of an additional 111 individuals on Tuesday, meaning he has now granted early release to 673 prisoners. According to the White House, that’s more than the 10 previous presidents combined.
Obama was once referred to as one of the least merciful in history, having ended his first term without making much use of his clemency power. In his second term, however, addressing the impact of the war on drugs, which many scholars say has significantly contributed to the country’s high levels of incarceration, became a major administration initiative.
The majority of the 111 individuals whose sentences were shortened on Tuesday had been imprisoned for drug trafficking offenses, including crack-cocaine and methamphetamine. Thirty five of the individuals who were granted clemency on Tuesday had been sentenced to life in prison for drug crimes. Many of the prisoners will be released by Dec. 28, not long before the president is set to leave office. Some will stay behind bars until 2018.
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Back on August 3, the President again made history by commuting the sentences of 214 federal inmates, the largest single-day grant of commutations in the nation’s history.
The early release of the 214 prisoners, mostly low-level drug offenders, is part of Obama’s effort to correct what he views as unreasonably long mandatory minimum sentences. Some date back decades, including 71-year-old Richard L. Reser of Sedgwick, Kan., who was given a 40-year sentence for dealing methamphatamine and firearm possession in 1989.
“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 to the President,…