President Barack Obama commuted the prison sentences of 46 drug offenders, saying in a video posted online Monday that the men and women were not “hardened criminals” and their punishments didn’t match the crimes they committed.
Obama said the move was part of his larger attempt to reform the criminal justice system, including reviewing sentencing laws and reducing punishments for non-violent crimes. With Monday’s announcement, Obama has commuted more sentences than any president since Lyndon B. Johnson.
“I believe that at its heart, America is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve their second chance,” Obama said in the video.
The move brings the number of Obama’s commutations to nearly 90. Most of those have been for federal prisoners incarcerated for drug offenses who were slapped with long sentences mandated under guidelines set during a drug-and-crime wave in the 1980s. Under current sentencing guidelines most of those prisoners would have already finished serving time.
Of the 46 prisoners whose sentences were commuted on Monday, 13 were sentenced to prison for life. Most of those commuted sentences will now end in November, a several month transition period that officials said allowed for arrangements to be made in halfway homes and other facilities. (Read more from “Obama Commutes Sentences of 46 Drug Offenders” HERE)