Since taking office eight years ago, President Obama has been no stranger to commuting prison sentences. As of yesterday, the White House announced that POTUS has commuted 562 prison sentences, which is more than the past nine presidents combined, after he granted clemency to 214 federal prisoners incarcerated for drug charges.
Under Obama’s administration, former Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole announced the Clemency Initiative, which “encourage qualified federal inmates to petition to have their sentences commuted, or reduced, by the President of the United States.” The initiative’s qualifications are defined by the following rules – 1) They are currently serving a federal sentence in prison and, by operation of law, likely would have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of the same offense(s) today; 2) They are non-violent, low-level offenders without significant ties to large scale criminal organizations, gangs or cartels; 3) They have served at least 10 years of their prison sentence; 4) They do not have a significant criminal history; 5) They have demonstrated good conduct in prison; 6) They have no history of violence prior to or during their current term of imprisonment.
Since the beginning of this program in 2014, America’s 44th president has commuted hundreds of prisoners, and plenty more since he officially took office in 2009. According to BuzzFeed, the White House’s announcement of President Obama’s recent list of commutations are “the most commutations issued by a president in a single day since at least 1900.”
Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates says this is “yet another step in the administration’s efforts to restore proportionality to unnecessarily long drug sentences.” She continued by saying, “But we are not done yet, and we expect that many more men and women will be given a second chance through the Clemency Initiative.”
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