President Barack Obama has ended the sentences of eight federal inmates who were convicted of non-violent crack cocaine offenses, reports According to The New York Times. Each of the inmates have been imprisoned for at least 15 years and six were sentenced to life in prison.
The President said that each of the eight men and women were sentenced under an unfair system that included unjust mandatory sentencing for crack cocaine under a 100-1 disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2011 dramatically reduced the disparity, which overwhelmingly effected minority populations.
"If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society," said President Obama. "Instead, because of a disparity in the law that is now recognized as unjust, they remain in prison, separated from their families and their communities, at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars each year."
The recipients of the pardon include several high-profile inmates who have received news media attention. Many of them were young at the time of the offense and were not accused of violence.
President Obama stated, "Commuting the sentences of these eight Americans is an important step towards restoring fundamental ideals of justice and fairness. But it must not be the last. Together, we must ensure that our taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, and that our justice system keeps its basic promise of equal treatment for all."