More than 100 inmates in federal prison had their sentences commuted by President Barack Obama on Thursday, and most of them were behind bars for drug-related charges, according to reports. The latest round of commutations make for a total of 774 inmates that have been given a second chance at freedom under Obama’s presidency, the White House Blog reported. A total of 102 convicts had their sentences eased in this most recent instance.
In August, Obama granted the record-breaking clemency of 325 inmates. So far in 2016, Obama has commuted 590 inmates, making him the president with the most commutations in United States history.
In a statement, White House counsel Neil Eggleston said the majority of inmates who were granted clemency were in prison for “drug-related crimes under outdated sentencing laws.”
Commutations do not grant prisoners full pardons, but instead call for shortened prison sentences while still upholding the other consequences of convictions like parole and fines. Obama’s commutation plan came as a way to reduce the sentences of people serving time for non-violent drug crimes. However, the presidential mercy has expanded to those in prison for more serious crimes, including a few who were detained for offenses involving firearms.
The majority of the 102 prisoners commuted Thursday were serving sentences based on cocaine possession, distribution and intent to sell charges. However, there were heroin and methamphetamine offenders on the commutation list as well, including one man named Shawn Leo Barth, who was serving a life plus 60 months sentence for drug trafficking and possession of a firearm – among many other drug-related charges – in North Dakota.
Inmates who were commuted before August typically were released within four months to allow the Bureau of Prisons enough time to prepare for re-entry programs and court-supervised meetings between inmates and parole officers. However, most of the inmates that made October’s commutation list will not be released until later in 2017. Of the 102 who were granted commutation, 21 of them will be released from their respective correctional facility on Feb. 3, 2017. The rest will be released from their sentences later in 2017 or in the future.
Click here for the full list of inmates commuted in October.