President Obama will commute the sentences of 61 additional drug offenders serving prison time.
The White House announced the president’s decision this morning as well as the news that he plans to meet with former drug offenders who have also had their sentences commuted.
The offenders have been sentenced to prison for attempts to distribute and to possess cocaine, meth, heroin, PCP, and other drugs. Twelve of the commuted sentences were also convicted of firearm related offenses.
Obama commuted the sentences of 68 drug offenders in 2015, making drug sentencing reform a priority for his administration. All told, Obama has commuted the sentences of 248 individuals– more than the previous six presidents combined, according to the White House
“The power to grant pardons and commutations… 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,” Obama said in his pardon letter.
He also visited non-violent drug offenders in prison in 2015 to call for more sentencing reform.
“That’s what strikes me, there but for the grace of God,” Obama said during the visit. “And that is something that we all have to think about.”
Yesterday, Obama admitted that although he used illegal drugs as a young person, he was “lucky” that he didn’t end up in prison or helplessly addicted.