President Commutes Life Sentences for Drug Offenses

This article was published on: 03/30/16 9:23 PM by Curt

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama commuted the federal prison sentences of 61 drug offenders, more than 20 of which were serving life sentences as he works towards overhauling the U.S. criminal justice system.

All of the inmates are serving time for drug possession, intent to sell or related crimes. Most of the 61 inmates are set to be released on July 28.

Obama stated in a letter to the inmates, the presidential power to grand 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.

One of the inmates, Jesse Webster of Chicago, is serving a life term for intent to sell cocaine and filing false tax returns. Another, Byron McDade of Bowie, Md., got 27 years for cocaine-related charges as well.

During his presidency, Obama has commuted sentences of 248 inmates, a number which far exceeds the commutations issued by the previous six presidents combined. Obama has stated he is committed to issue more grants of clemency, commutations and pardons before the term of his presidency expires on January 20, 2017.

Obama has long opposed strict sentences for drug offenses, which lead to excessive punishment and sky-high incarceration rates.

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