October 27, 2020

Obama commutes sentences of 95 prisoners, pardons 2 others

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Closed jail cells in a famous penitentiary

Closed jail cells in a famous penitentiary

By Mike Sacks, From The National Law Journal

President Barack Obama on Friday commuted sentences for 95 prisoners, more than doubling his total number of commutations since entering office in 2009.

The grants are largely for nonviolent drug offenses involving crack cocaine. Firearm possession factored into 18 of the prisoners’ drug-related sentences and methamphetamine offenses accounted for 10 sentences. Twelve prisoners’ sentences expire on Friday. The remainder of the sentences will terminate on April 16, 2016.

Friday’s announcement is the second time this year Obama has doubled his presidency’s clemency count. In July, he granted 46 commutations, besting the 43 he had granted in his first six and a half years in the White House.

“Based on what he’s been doing so far, he had been increasing the number. we were very hopeful that we would get a larger grant than before,” said Cynthia Roseberry, project manager for Clemency Project 2014, which submitted petitions for 27 of the 95 grantees on Friday’s list.

“I am thrilled,” she said.

According to Justice Department criteria announced in April 2014, grantees must be nonviolent, low-level offenders in federal prison who have served at least 10 years of sentences that would be lower under current law. And the prisoners must have demonstrated good conduct while incarcerated.

Obama’s bolder moves on commutation are in step with bipartisan momentum towards criminal justice reform over the past year and those granted relief are overwhelmingly the same people who would benefit from leading reform bills in Congress.

At a press conference on Friday, the president praised the Senate bill as a vehicle for achieving a “system that is more fair, more even handed, more proportionate and is smarter in how we reduce crime.”

Obama also pardoned two people on Friday whose sentences—neither of which involved prison time—had long since been fully served.

IMAGE: Photo by Tracy King/iStockphoto.com

For more on this story go to: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202745248384/Obama-Commutes-Sentences-of-95-Prisoners-Pardons-2-Others#ixzz3upG07ji0

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