empty prison cell

Obama Commutes Sentences of 111 More Inmates

President Obama commuted the sentences of 111 more inmates Tuesday, in an attempt to clear a backlog of 11,477 pending cases.

With the addition of these 111 inmates, Obama granted 325 commutations in August, a number that’s nearly double the amount of commutations granted during his entire presidency.

These commutations – the shortening of criminal sentences through use of the president’s constitutional pardon power – include 35 people who expected to spend the rest of their lives in federal custody and are the result of the Obama administration’s two-year clemency initiative.

The Justice Department told NPR that lawyers there have worked through an enormous backlog of drug cases and, despite doubts from prisoner advocates, they will be able to consider each of the thousands of applications from drug criminals before Obama leaves office in 2017.

"At our current pace, we are confident that we will be able to review and make a recommendation to the president on every single drug petition we currently have," Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates said.

As Congress passes new laws to shorten sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, it fails to make many of the measures retroactive, thus leaving countless inmates who would receive lesser punishments if tried today stuck serving life sentences.

To date, the Obama Administration has granted 673 commutations, more than the past 10 presidents combined.

White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said the president carefully reviews each request, examining the individual’s crime, prison record, and whether they deserve a second chance.

"The president's view is that he would like to grant as many worthy petitions as get to his desk and I think he's going to tell me to put worthy petitions on his desk until the last day, and that's what I intend to do," Eggleston said.

Posted in General News

Tags: President Obama, prison, bureau of prisons, criminal justice reform, drug crimes

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