Clemencies Come As Advocates Push Mitch McConnell on Sentencing Reform
Drug Policy Alliance: The President is Acting; Congress Must Step Up Too
President Barack Obama on Wednesday commuted the sentences of 61 people incarcerated in federal prison for drug offenses.
This follows the commutation of 95 people in December, 2015, 45 people in July of that year, 22 people in March 2015, and 8 people in December of 2014. All of those who received commutations Wednesday were serving time in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, and many were victims of the disparity in sentencing between crack and cocaine.
To date, the President has now commuted the sentences of 248 individuals – more than the previous six Presidents combined. And, in total, he has commuted 92 life sentences.
“The power to grant pardons and commutations… embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws,” President Obama wrote in a letter to the 61 individuals receiving clemency on Wednesday.
The President cautioned those receiving clemency that what they do with this unexpected opportunity reflects not only on each individual person, but also on all those still behind bars who are seeking the same shot at a new life.
President Obama has been under significant public pressure from advocacy groups and family members of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses who are serving long, mandatory minimum sentences.