President Barack Obama has commuted 325 sentences in the month of August alone. He is on a roll with his second round of commutations for the month – 111 more prisoners of the drug war had their petition for clemency granted. With a total of 673 commutations during his presidency, President Obama is trying to right the wrongs of the War on Drugs. White House Counsel Neil Eggleston stated: “Today’s 111 commutation grants underscore the President’s commitment to using his clemency authority to provide a second chance to deserving individuals. To date, President Obama has granted 673 commutations: more commutations than the previous ten presidents combined. More than one-third of the President’s commutation recipients, or 232 individuals, were serving life sentences.”
The War on Drugs and the idea behind it — that we can incarcerate ourselves out of a drug issue — is absurd, and this White House definitely agrees. President Obama has done more than any president in recent years to change our prohibition-geared criminal justice system, but of course, more needs to be done. Eggleston continued in his statement, “The individualized nature of this relief highlights the need for bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, including reforms that address excessive mandatory minimum sentences. Only the passage of legislation can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure our federal sentencing system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety.”
During his presidency, Obama has made it a priority to get as many non-violent offenders out of their disproportionate sentences. The Obama administration recognizes that there is more to sentencing than rigid mandatory minimums. While the War on Drugs may have seemed plausible in theory, unfortunately, it has had disastrous results when put into action. The War on Drugs was a war declared on our own people — people who deserve rehabilitation and a second chance.
Eggleston stated, “We must remember that these are individuals — sons, daughters, parents, and in many cases, grandparents — who have taken steps toward rehabilitation and who have earned their second chance. They are individuals who received unduly harsh sentences under outdated laws for committing largely nonviolent drug crimes…For each of these applicants, the President considers the individual merits of each application to determine that an applicant is ready to make use of his or her second chance.”
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