President Obama Grants 102 More Pardons, Brings Total to 774, More than Last 11 Presidents Combined

Pardons
(Photo: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

President Obama yesterday commuted the sentences of 102 more people, the “vast majority” of which have been in prison for nonviolent drug-related offenses. This brings the total number of pardons granted by Obama to 774, more than the number of commutations issued by the last 11 presidents combined.

“The vast majority of today’s grants were for individuals serving unduly harsh sentences for drug-related crimes under outdated sentencing laws,” said White House counsel Neil Eggleston in a press release. “With today’s grants, the President has commuted 774 sentences, more than the previous 11 presidents combined. With a total of 590 commutations this year, President Obama has now commuted the sentences of more individuals in one year than in any other single year in our nation’s history.”

Read morePresident Obama Grants 102 More Pardons, Brings Total to 774, More than Last 11 Presidents Combined

Dozens More Federal Drug Offenders Granted Clemency by President Obama

Yesterday President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 58 peopleobama serving prison time for federal drug-related offenses. This follows the commutation of 61 individuals on March 30th of this year, and 162 individuals in 2015. Each of the individuals receiving a pardon were in prison for a nonviolent drug offense, many victims of the disparity between crack and powdered cocaine.

“The President is using his constitutional power, but he can only do so much,” says Michael Collins, deputy director at Drug Policy Alliance’s office of national affairs. “There is legislation in the Senate that would reduce mandatory minimums and have a greater impact on the prison population, and Leader McConnell needs to bring the bill up for a vote.”

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Historic Sentencing Reform Bill Unanimously Passes U.S. House Judiciary Committee

drugwarjailEarlier today the United States House Judiciary Committee gave unanimous approval to the Sentencing Reform Act, a historic bill that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, expand judges discretions to give sentences lower than the mandatory minimums in some cases, while making most of the sentencing changes apply retroactively.

“This vote today is a significant step toward reducing the federal prison population,” says Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We have a bill moving in the Senate, and now we have a companion bill moving in the House, so I’m optimistic we’ll have legislation on the President’s desk in a matter of months.”

Read moreHistoric Sentencing Reform Bill Unanimously Passes U.S. House Judiciary Committee

Comprehensive Criminal Justice Reform Bill Passes U.S Senate Judiciary Committee

criminal justice reformThe U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted 15 to 5 today to pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, expand early release programs and expand the federal “safety valve”, (which gives judges discretion to give an individual a sentence lower than the mandatory minimum).

“This vote today is a huge step toward ending the failed policies of the war on drugs,” says Michael Collins, Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “To see Republicans and Democrats join hands to pass this bill gives me great hope we’ll have legislation on the President’s desk very soon.”

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President Obama Grants Clemency to 14 Individuals Serving Life in Prison for Drugs

By Drug Policy Alliance

President Obama announcing in a video that he's commuted 46 sentences.
President Obama announcing in a video that he’s commuted 46 sentences.

Today, President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 46 people incarcerated in federal prison. This follows the commutation of eight people incarcerated in federal prison for drug offenses in December of 2014, and 22 in March 2015. Fourteen of the people who received commutations today were serving life in prison for nonviolent drug offenses.

In taking this step, the President has now issued nearly 90 commutations, the vast majority of them to non-violent offenders sentenced for drug law violations under draconian sentencing laws. President Obama has been under significant public pressure from advocacy groups and family members of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses who are serving long, mandatory minimum sentences.

Read morePresident Obama Grants Clemency to 14 Individuals Serving Life in Prison for Drugs

U.S. Senate Committee Votes to Protect State-Level Medical Cannabis Laws

medical-marijuana-symbolIn a huge victory for cannabis law reform, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted today to approve an amendment to a federal spending bill offered by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) that would protect state medical cannabis laws from federal interference by the Department of Justice, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration. The vote was 20 to 10.

The amendment mirrors one that passed the full House of Representatives last week with a 242 to 186 vote.

Read moreU.S. Senate Committee Votes to Protect State-Level Medical Cannabis Laws

Legislation to End Federal Prohibition on Medical Cannabis Announced in U.S. Senate

On Tuesday, March 10cannaamerica, at 12:30pm EST, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will host a press conference to introduce bipartisan legislation that would end the United State’s prohibition on medical cannabis. Specific details of the proposal will be announced at the press conference.

“Almost half the states have legalized marijuana for medical use; it’s long past time to end the federal ban,” says Michael Collins, Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “This bipartisan legislation allows states to set their own medical marijuana policies and ends the criminalization of patients, their families, and the caregivers and dispensary owners and employees who provide them their medicine.”

Read moreLegislation to End Federal Prohibition on Medical Cannabis Announced in U.S. Senate