President Obama is commuting the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders, the White House announced Monday. Most of the offenders had been sentenced to at least 20 years, and 14 were given life sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
“These men and women were not hardened criminals,” Mr. Obama said in a video. “So their punishments didn’t fit the crime. I believe that at its heart, America is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve their second chance.”
The Obama Administration has issued a total of 89 commutations—more than the last four presidents combined, according to The New York Times.
Obama is scheduled to talk about his proposals for changing the juvenile and criminal justice systems at the NAACP annual convention in Philadelphia on Tuesday, the article notes.
In a letter to each inmate whose sentence was commuted, Obama said he had chosen them because “you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around. I believe in your ability to prove the doubters wrong, and change your life for the better.”
More than 6,000 prisoners submitted petitions to the Justice Department to have their sentences commuted. Those who were chosen will remain in prison until November 10. They were selected from a pool of prisoners who were generally nonviolent inmates who have served more than 10 years in prison, who have behaved well while incarcerated and who would not have received as long a sentence under today’s sentencing rules.
In April, the White House announced 22 drug offenders serving time in federal prison will be freed. Eight of the inmates had received life sentences. Many of the 22 inmates would have already served their time under current drug laws and sentencing policies.