President Barack Obama shortened the sentences of 214 federal inmates on Wednesday by use of his clemency power. This is the largest number of commutations granted in one day in United States History.
Out of the 214 sentences, 67 of those were life sentences. Although most were serving time for non-violent drug activity, some prisoners had been arrested with drug charges combined with the use of firearms and weapons.
According to ABC News, inmate Dicky Joe Jackson from Texas was issued a life sentence for drug charges and for possessing an unlicensed gun as a felon. Obama’s early release of prisoners stems from his perspective that mandatory minimum sentences are irrational. He emphasizes that change is necessary to move forward.
In a Facebook post, Obama wrote,
“The more we understand the human stories behind this problem, the sooner we can start making real changes that keep our streets safe, break the cycle of incarceration in this country, and save taxpayers like you money.”
Obama has commuted a total of 562 sentences during his presidency, which surpasses the past nine presidents combined.
The White House tweeted the following:
The president’s power to grant clemency comes in either the form of pardons or commutations. Unlike a pardon which forgives crimes, those being released on commutations will still have to face court supervision while maintaining a criminal record.
White House counsel Neil Eggleston stated,
“Our work is far from finished. I expect the president will continue to grant clemency in a historic and inspiring fashion.”
Some critics of Obama’s actions insist on even strong reform. They believe that prisoners should instead be granted full pardons so that they can more easily re-enter society. Others maintain that these prisoners should stay there and do not deserve the chance to change, as they are a risk to other citizens.
Do you agree with his actions? Let us know in the comments below.