Obama commutes sentences of drug offenders

2016-03-30 20:56


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - President Barack Obama on Wednesday commuted the prison sentences of 61 drug offenders, including more than a third serving life sentences, giving new energy to calls for overhauling the US criminal justice system.

All of the inmates are serving time for drug possession, intent to sell or related crimes. Most are non-violent offenders, although a few were also charged with firearms violations. Obama's commutation shortens their sentences, with most of the inmates set to be released on July 28.

Obama has long called for getting rid of strict sentences for drug offences that critics say lead to excessive punishment and sky-high incarceration rates. With Obama's support, the Justice Department in recent years has directed prosecutors to rein in the use of harsh mandatory minimums and expanded the criteria for inmates applying for clemency.

Though there's wide bipartisan support in Congress for overhauling the criminal justice system, momentum has slowed as the chaotic presidential campaign has made co-operation between Republicans and Democrats increasingly difficult.

Obama, in a letter to the inmates, said the presidential power to grant commutations and pardons "embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws".

Obama planned to meet on Wednesday with people whose sentences were previously commuted under him or presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush. The White House said the former inmates would share their experiences about the challenges of re-entering society after incarceration.

The latest commutations bring to 248 the total number of inmates whose sentences Obama has commuted, more than the past six presidents combined, the White House said. The pace of commutations and the rarer use of pardons are expected to increase as the end of Obama's presidency nears.

Neil Eggleston, the White House counsel, said in a blog post that clemency is a tool of last resort that can help specific people, but doesn't address the broader need for a justice system that's "more fair and just".

Read more on:    barack obama  |  us  |  narcotics

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.