Pres. Obama Makes Criminal Justice History With Only Months Left in Office

August 30th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

President Barack Obama is in the final months of his presidency, but he hasn't stopped his history-making push for criminal justice reform. On Tuesday, Obama commuted the sentences of another 111 prisoners, the second time he's given commutations this month, according to the White House.

"President Obama greets inmates during a visit to El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla., July 16, 2015."

The 325 commutations he's given in August, the most granted by any president in one month, brings his administration's total to 673. That's more than that last 10 presidents combined.

"President Obama has commuted the sentences of more men and women than the last 10 presidents combined."

Obama had been giving commutations, a phrase that references clearing the remaining incarceration time on a sentence, as a part of his administration's clemency initiative. Most of the inmates were serving long terms for drug offenses because of mandatory sentencing minimums and harsh drug laws. More than one-third of the recipients were serving life sentences, according to The White House.

President Obama hugs a woman he freed from incarceration.

Neil Eggleston, the White House counsel to the president, wrote on the administration's website that President Obama will continue to grant commutations through the remainder of the year. However, he encouraged Congress to tackle much needed legislative criminal justice reform.

"While I expect that the President will continue to grant commutations through the end of this administration, the individualized nature of this relief highlights the need for bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, including reforms that address excessive mandatory minimum sentences. Only the passage of legislation can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure our federal sentencing system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety."

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