President Barack Obama Commutes Over 200 Federal Prison Sentences, Most In Single Day In Over 100 Years [Video]

Patricia Ramirez

President Barack Obama used his executive power to commute the sentences of 214 federal prisoners on Wednesday, August 3. Of the sentences he cut short, nearly 70 were life sentences. The vast majority of the inmates who had their prison sentences commuted by President Obama were imprisoned for nonviolent drug offenses, and the vast majority of the prisoners who saw their sentences shortened were men.

Reportedly, Barack Obama's August 3 sentence reductions reflect the largest number of commutations one day in over 100 years.

Over the course of his presidency, President Obama has highly politicized his habit of aggressively commuting federal prison sentences. He's done so in an effort to convince Congress to take legislative action to prevent future generations of Americans from being subjected to archaic and unjust mandatory minimum sentencing requirements.

Particularly in cases of nonviolent drug offenders, who make up a disproportionately high percentage of the U.S. prison population.

"All of the individuals receiving commutation today — incarcerated under outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws — embody the president's belief that 'America is a nation of second chances."

Eggleston told the public that President Obama's commutations start with a written application process, and that the president carefully considers each applicant's merits and personal needs before making a decision regarding clemency. Some of the specific needs of individual federal inmates include the need for formal education, various forms of counseling, and/or access to comprehensive drug treatment programs. According to Eggleston, President Barack Obama would like to see U.S. legislators do what needs to be done to create and enact "lasting change to the federal system."

While most former U.S. presidents have utilized their executive authority to shorten federal prison sentences and/or issue pardons toward the end of their terms, President Barack Obama handed out literally hundreds since the beginning of his presidency.

"We are not done yet. We expect that many more men and women will be given a second chance through the clemency initiative."

What do you think? Is it appropriate for a single president to commute more federal prisoners than the last nine combined? Is President Barack Obama within his rights and duty to continue his clemency efforts?

[Image via Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock]

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