Following last Thursday’s grant of 98 commutations, today, President Obama granted commutation to another 72 federal inmates. In just an eight-day period, the President has issued two rounds of grants, totaling 170 commutations. With today’s grants, the President has now commuted the sentences of 944 individuals, including 324 life sentences.
What President Obama has done for commutations is unprecedented in the modern era. The President is committed to reinvigorating the clemency authority, demonstrating that our nation is a nation of second chances, where mistakes from the past will not deprive deserving individuals of the opportunity to rejoin society and contribute to their families and communities. The President’s 944 commutation recipients have earned that second chance -- whether by obtaining a GED, taking vocational programming to learn skills for future employment, or addressing the substance abuse that so often has led to their criminal conduct. These stories demonstrate that neither society nor these individuals benefit from disproportionate sentences that keep rehabilitated individuals incarcerated, even after they have been adequately punished for their wrongdoing. The personal stories behind each of the President’s commutation recipients underline the individualized consideration that goes into each grant.
Only Congress can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure our federal sentencing system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety. As Congress returns this month, it is essential that they take up bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, including reforms that address the excessive mandatory minimum sentences that imprisoned many of the individuals receiving commutation today.