President Barack Obama
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On Monday, President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 46 men and women, almost all of whom were serving lengthy sentences for drug crimes.

"Nearly all of these individuals would have already served their time and returned to society if they were convicted of the exact same crime today," the White House wrote on the White House Facebook page.

The move is part of a continuing effort begun by the Obama administration last year to grant clemency to nonviolent drug offenders whose sentences have been deemed too harsh when weighed against today's drug laws. 

"So their punishments didn't fit the crimes," Obama said in a video posted to the White House website. "I believe those folks deserve their second chance."


According to the Washington Post, "The latest round of commutations comes days before Obama is set to visit a federal prison in Oklahoma on Thursday in the first such visit by a sitting U.S. president to a federal prison. He is also expected to address his administration's effort to overhaul the criminal justice system in a speech Tuesday at the NAACP's annual conference in Philadelphia."

The Post notes that inmates whose sentences have been recently commuted will have to move to halfway houses to help with their transitions into the community.


Obama has commuted the sentences of some 89 people during his presidency and granted another 64 people full pardons, according to USA Today.

Each prisoner whose sentence was commuted on Monday received a letter from the president notifying the prisoner of his or her release. 


"I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around," Obama wrote to Jerry Allen Bailey, a federal prisoner in Jessup, Ga., USA Today reports. "Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity."

Read more at the Washington Post and USA Today.