Today President Obama granted commutations to 209 individuals, and pardoned 64 more. The vast majority of these people had charges related to nonviolent drug offenses.
“With today’s 209 grants of commutation, the President has now commuted the sentences of 1,385 individuals – the most grants of commutation issued by any President in this nation’s history”, Neil Eggleston, Counsel to the President, said in a statement released today. “President Obama’s 1,385 commutation grants – which includes 504 life sentences – is also more than the total number of commutations issued by the past 12 presidents combined. And with today’s 64 pardons, the President has now granted a total of 212 pardons.”
Eggleston continues; “Today, 209 commutation recipients – including 109 individuals who had believed they would live out their remaining days in prison – learned that they will be rejoining their families and loved ones, and 64 pardon recipients learned that their past convictions have been forgiven. These 273 individuals learned that our nation is a forgiving nation, where hard work and a commitment to rehabilitation can lead to a second chance, and where wrongs from the past will not deprive an individual of the opportunity to move forward.”
Eggleston ends the statement by noting that although this is a great move that will positively change the lives of hundreds of people; “Only Congress can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure over the long run that our criminal justice system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety.”
Although a vast majority of the commutations and pardons were for nonviolent drug offenses, one high-profile commutation was given to Chelsea Manning, a former member of the U.S. Army who was arrested for releasing classified information to the public.