President Barack Obama is commuting the sentences of 95 offenders and pardoning two more in a year-end spree.
Almost all of those receiving commuted sentences are non-violent drug offenders. Many were convicted of distributing or possessing cocaine or crack-cocaine. The commutations are the most that Obama has issued at once time.
Obama is also pardoning an Ohio man sentenced to probation in a counterfeiting case and a Virginia woman sentenced to home detention and supervised release in a bank fraud case.
The commutations aim to build momentum for Obama's broader push on criminal justice reform. Obama has sought to alleviate overcrowding in U.S. prisons by easing steep punishments for non-violent offenders. The White House has been working with lawmakers from both parties in an effort to overhaul U.S. sentencing.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates released the following statement after the clemency announcement made today by President Obama:
"The president's decision today to commute the prison terms of 95 individuals is another sign of this administration's strong commitment to ensuring fairness in the criminal justice system. The Justice Department has pursued that goal by changing charging policies through our Smart on Crime initiative, working cooperatively with the U.S. Sentencing Commission to reduce guidelines for certain drug offenders, urging Congress to enact meaningful and comprehensive sentencing reform legislation and identifying appropriate candidates for executive clemency. While the clemency initiative is just one prong in the larger effort to reform sentencing practices, it is one to which we are strongly committed."