Clemency Granted for 46 Low-Level Drug Offenses

     (CN) – President Barack Obama announced on Monday that he is commuting the sentences of 46 federal drug offenders, a day before he is to deliver a major speech on criminal justice reform in Philadelphia.
     “These men and women were not violent criminals, but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years — 14 of them had been sentenced to life for nonviolent drug offenses, so their punishments didn’t fit the crime,” the president said in a video released through the White House Facebook page. “And if they’d been sentenced under today’s laws nearly all of them would have already served their time.
     “I’ve made clear to them that reentering society is going to require responsibility on their part, and hard work, and smarter choices, but I believe that America, at its heart, is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve their second chance,” the president said.
     The commutations announced Monday more than double the number of nonviolent criminals to whom President Obama has granted clemency since taking office. In doing so, he is following through on a Justice Department clemency initiative announced in April 2014.
     Under the addition, the agency is prioritizing clemency applications for federal inmates who are nonviolent, low level offenders who have served at least 10 years in prison, have no significant ties to gangs or organized crime, and have demonstrated good conduct while incarcerated.
     The president described the initiative as a method of making the criminal justice system “work smarter” and “work better.”
     The majority of those granted clemency Monday were sentenced to crimes involving crack and cocaine; two of the inmates were convicted on marijuana-related charges.
     In a letter sent to each of the inmates, the president wrote, “I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around. Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity.”
     “It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. Perhaps even you are unsure f how you will adjust to your new circumstances,” he continued. “Bit remember that you have the capacity to make good choices. By doing so, you will affect not only your own life, but those close to you.
     “You will also influence, through your example, the possibility that others in your circumstances get their own second change in the future,” the president said.

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