Tags: Barack Obama | commutation | punishment | drug | convicts

Obama Commutes Sentences of 8 Nonviolent Drug Offenders

By    |   Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 10:31 PM

President Barack Obama is cutting short the sentences of eight federal drug offenders, including four who were set to die in prison, as part of a new initiative to reduce harsh sentences for nonviolent crimes.

Sidney Earl Johnson Jr., Rickey Marcell McCall, Larry Nailor and Israel Abel Torres had received life sentences and were going to die behind bars. Their commutations, and those of four others who were convicted of drug crimes, mean they'll all be released in 2015, The Huffington Post reports.

Obama has now commuted the sentences of 18 people, which a White House official noted was more than either President Ronald Reagan or President George W. Bush, the Huffington Post reports.

The clemency policy changes aren't limited to drug offenders, who compose about half of the roughly 216,000 federal prisoners, but the criteria make it clear they are the main targets.

"I think there is an awareness out there that this president is interested in granting clemency on these kinds of matters," White House counsel Neil Eggleston told The Associated Press.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole said that the eight granted clemency Wednesday were "sentenced under outdated and unfair laws" and that all of them met criteria announced last April that aim to decrease lengthy sentences for non-violent drug offenders and shrink the country's surging prison population.

A pardon forgives a crime without erasing the conviction, typically after a sentence has been served. A commutation leaves the conviction and ends the punishment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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President Barack Obama is cutting short the sentences of eight federal drug offenders, including four who were set to die in prison, as part of a new initiative to reduce harsh sentences for nonviolent crimes.
commutation, punishment, drug, convicts
252
2014-31-17
Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 10:31 PM
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