President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 214 federal inmates on Wednesday — almost all were incarcerated for nonviolent drug crimes and 67 were serving life sentences, attorney Neil Eggleston, a member of the president’s legal counsel, said in a blog post.
“In 2014, the President set out to make meaningful changes to this country’s approach to clemency,” he wrote. “To spotlight instances of over-sentencing in our prisons, the President directed the Department of Justice to prioritize petitions for commutations from individuals convicted of non-violent drug offenses who were serving longer sentences than they would be given today if convicted of the same crime.”
Some of the individuals were granted clemency under the condition that they participate in additional drug treatment upon their release. Others had their sentences significantly reduced to terms more consistent with modern sentencing policies. While those reductions still require inmates to serve time, according to Eggleston, it also allows those inmates to continue rehabilitation programs such as drug and counseling services.
“Underlying all the President’s commutation decisions is the belief that these deserving individuals should be given the tools to succeed in their second chance,” he said in the post.
The Obama Administration has granted 562 commutations to date — more than the past nine presidents combined — 197 of those were life sentences.