President grants clemency to record number of federal inmates

President Obama is in his last year as president and has decided to commute the prison sentences of a massive number of federal inmates. In fact, he has set a record in the number of clemency grants he has ordered — 673 in total — which is more than the last 10 presidents granted combined. In the month of August alone, Obama granted clemency to 325 inmates, 111 of which were granted in one day. Most of the inmates who received clemency had been given federal prison sentences for minor drug offenses, and 39 of them had lifetime sentences for low-level, non-violent drug crimes.

Of the many inmates who received clemency was a man who received his conviction in 1994, after authorities convicted him of selling LSD. He also had two prior selling and possession offenses on his record. Court records indicate that he sold LSD to a police informant during a cross-country trip following the Grateful Dead music band. His crime was not violent in any way, and he had never gone to prison before; however, because it was his third offense, he received a lifetime federal prison sentence. He went to prison at the age of 25 and now, 22 years later, he has been scheduled for release in 2018.

Obama does not plan to end his clemencies there. He is currently working with the Department of Justice to review a backlog of federal prison petitions before his last year of presidency has concluded.

A lifetime federal prison sentence for a non-violent drug crime conviction is possible; therefore, federal drug crimes should always be taken seriously. Fortunately, every person convicted of a crime will have the opportunity to defend him or herself in court and will not be punished until — and only if — he or she is proved to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.

Source: Yahoo, “Obama’s Record-Setting Commutations Included A Deadhead Who’s Been Imprisoned For 22 Years,” Kimberly Ricci, Aug. 31, 2016