Today, President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 79 people incarcerated in federal prison, almost all of whom were serving time under outdated and harsh drug sentences. This round of commutations brings the number of prisoners whose sentences have been commuted under President Obama to more than 1,000.
The commutation of these prison sentences represents what the White House hopes will be just one prong of a broader push to overhaul the criminal justice system, making it fairer while saving the government money. President Obama has been pushed to do more to release those serving time in prison under harsh drug laws that have imprisoned an enormous amount of individuals.
“These commutations are great but there are thousands of more people being warehoused in federal prison for drug offenses. They probably won’t get any relief under Donald Trump, which is why President Obama should commute all their sentences before he leaves office,” said Bill Piper, Senior Director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance.
“President Obama deserves praise for commuting the sentences of people who deserve to be reunited with their families,” said Tony Papa, media relations manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, who was granted clemency in New York State in 1997 after serving 12 years under the Rockefeller Drug Laws for a first-time nonviolent drug offense. Papa just released his new book, “This Side of Freedom: Life after Clemency,” which speaks about the roadblocks he faced after he was released. “It’s my hope that the president continues to grant freedom to those who deserve a chance to re-enter society.”