President Obama commutes prison sentences of 22 drug offenders

Decision is part of Justice Department effort to grant clemency to nonviolent offenders

President Barack Obama on Tuesday increased his effort to get nonviolent offenders out of US prisons by commuting the sentences of 22 people imprisoned on drug charges.

Those who had their sentences commuted on Tuesday are from all over the US and are serving long prison terms for charges of possession, sale and distribution of drugs, such as methamphetamine, marijuana, crack and cocaine, the Washington Post reported.

 

All but one of the prisoners had their sentences commuted to 28 July, 2015. The other prisoner, Derrick DeWayne Johnson, had his sentence reduced by more than eight years.

The president wrote a letter to each of the prisoners who had their sentences commuted, encouraging them to take advantage of this opportunity to rebuild their lives.

 “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,” Mr Obama wrote. “It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change... But remember that you have the capacity to make good choices.

”I believe in your ability to prove the doubters wrong. So good luck, and Godspeed.“

Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, President Obama only had pardoned eight prisoners as part of a Justice Department effort to get nonviolent offenders out of US jails.

Explaining the rationale behind the commuted sentences, White House lawyer Neil Eggleston wrote that the prisoners who had their sentences commuted would have already served their time had they been convicted under modern sentencing guidelines, which have become less stringent in recent years.

See the complete list of those who had their sentences commuted here.

 

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