Obama gives second chance to 61 convicted drug offenders–47kh . stat 7–
U.S. President Barack Obama commuted prison sentences for 61 non-violent drug offenders on Wednesday and the White House said he hopes to issue more pardons and commutations during his remaining months in office.
Obama has pushed to reform the U.S. criminal justice system to reduce the number of people serving long sentences for non-violent drug crimes, a rare area where the Democratic president has garnered support from Republican lawmakers.
“It does not make sense for a non-violent drug offender to be getting 20 years, 30 years, in some cases life in prison. That’s not serving anybody,” Obama said after lunch with several people whose sentences had been commuted.
Obama has now commuted 248 sentences, which the White House said was more than the previous six presidents combined. More than a third of those commuted on Wednesday were life sentences.
“Throughout the remainder of his time in office, the President is committed to continuing to issue more grants of clemency as well as to strengthening rehabilitation programs,” White House counsel Neil Eggleston said in a statement.
The Justice Department launched a program in April 2014 to identify prisoners serving time for crimes they were sentenced for under laws that have since been changed to carry less severe punishments.
Applicants qualify if they have no record of violence, no significant ties to a gang or drug cartel, have been in prison at least 10 years and have demonstrated good behavior.
Efforts on Capitol Hill to change laws to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders have stalled amid the race for the Nov. 8 presidential election.
source–reuters, alaba wuse, neil eggleston