In a history-making move, President Obama granted clemency to 42 prisoners last week, bringing his grand total of commuted sentences to an unbelievable 348.
In a statement on the White House’s website, the Obama administration announced that President Obama’s total of commutations is larger than the previous seven presidents combined. Before President Obama, the record was held by President Clinton, who commuted 61 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 newly released inmates.
Throughout his time in office, President Obama has been vocal about the outdated laws that is the reason many of these prisoners are behind bars. He recognizes that in a lot of cases, one mistake shouldn’t rule an individual’s life.
“While we continue to work to resolve as many clemency applications as possible—and make no mistake, we are working hard at this,” reads WhiteHouse.gov, “only broader criminal justice reform can truly bring justice to the many thousands of people behind bars serving unduly harsh and outdated sentences.”