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Obama commutes prison sentence for Chelsea Manning

President Obama succeeded in pardoning a final 330 individuals just before finishing up his final term as President of the United States. Those he pardoned were mostly nonviolent drug offenders, which brought his total amount of clemencies to 1,715. This broke records for presidential pardons granted.

During his tenure as POTUS, President Obama commuted the sentences of more prisoners than the last dozen presidents put together. Of that total, 568 were serving life sentences.

In addition, Obama granted clemency to Chelsea Manning, an Army private who was sentenced to a 35-year prison term for stealing confidential military and diplomatic documents, which were then passed to WikiLeaks.

In addition, Obama granted clemency to the Puerto Rican independence activist, Oscar Lopez Rivera. The activist was allegedly involved with a group that wounded and killed numerous people during the 1970s and 1980s.

Commentators praised Obama's clemency actions over the last two years. They say that his pardons recognize the broken state of our nation's criminal justice system and represent an attempt to restore a sense of fairness. One attorney commented that his client, who was carrying out a lifetime sentence for a nonviolent drug offense, had his life saved by Obama's decision to pardon him.

There are numerous other individuals still being held in federal prisons serving long-term jail sentences for offenses that are quite minor. Some of these individuals may be able to seek clemency and have their sentences commuted. If you believe that you or your loved one could potentially qualify to be granted clemency, it may be beneficial to speak with a North Carolina criminal defense lawyer who can review potential strategies that could help your situation.

Source: The Washington Post, "Obama grants final 330 commutations to nonviolent drug offenders," Sari Horwitz, Jan. 19, 2017

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