Pubdate: Sat, 07 May 2016
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2016 The Arizona Republic
Author: Gregory Korte


All Had Been Convicted of Drug Offenses; Total Rises to 119 This Year

President Obama shortened the sentences of 58 federal inmates 
Thursday, a signal he intends to use his constitutional clemency 
power more routinely for the remainder of his presidency.

All of those granted early release had been convicted of some form of 
drug trafficking or laundering of drug money. Most sold cocaine, and 
eighteen of the 58 had been serving life sentences. The commutations 
are part of an effort by Obama's Justice Department to rectify what 
it sees as overly punitive sentences from the war on drugs.

Obama has now commuted the sentences of 306 federal inmates, more 
than any president since Franklin Roosevelt.

But the commutations announced Thursday were notable not for their 
number but for their timing. As of the end of 2015, most of Obama's 
187 commutations had come in December, often issued just before the 
Christmas holiday.

But so far this year, he has issued 119 more, and Thursday's round of 
clemency warrants comes just five weeks after the last round - the 
quickest turnaround for presidential commutations not related to 
national security since Obama has been president.

"You're going to start seeing a lot more very quickly," White House 
Counsel Neil Eggleston told the Washington newspaper Politico last 
month. "I think you're going to start seeing them on a more regular 
basis. I did want to get a little out of the notion that each one had 
to be more than the one before because that's sort of an artificial floor."
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