Obama Poised to Commute Sentences for Scores of Nonviolent Drug Offenders

Lynette Holloway
Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Barack Obama is slated to sign orders in the next few weeks to release scores of federal inmates imprisoned on nonviolent drug charges, reports the New York Times.

Upon signing the orders, Obama will likely reduce more sentences at one time than any president in nearly 50 years, the report says. The total number of commutations for Obama’s historic presidency could surpass 80, but more than 30,000 federal inmates have come forward in response to his administration’s call for clemency applications, according to the news outlet.


The move is part of a broader effort by the president to right excesses of the past, when elected officials seeking to be tough on crime imprisoned scores of mostly young African-American and Hispanic men for minor crimes. Now, with many Republicans and Democrats agreeing that the federal government went too far, Obama is poised to use his clemency power to grant the release of the prisoners.

“It’s a time when conservatives and liberals and libertarians and lots of different people on the political spectrum” have “come together in order to focus attention on excessive sentences, the costs and the like, and the need to correct some of those excesses,” Neil Eggleston, the White House counsel who recommends clemency petitions to Obama, told the Times. “So I think the president sees the commutations as a piece of that entire process.”

Read more at the New York Times.

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