School’s out for summer, and before springing his family from the “really nice prison” in which they live and making a break for Martha’s Vineyard this weekend, President Obama had one more chore to finish aside from packing: commuting the sentences of 214 more prisoners … or does that count as 214 little chores?
That number marks the most commutations granted by a president in one day since 1900 and brings President Obama’s total to 562. The president announced last week that when he returns from summer break, criminal justice reform will be one of his top priorities for the fall.
Obama has commuted 562 prisoners' sentences during his presidency… More than the previous 9 presidents combined.https://t.co/pBMrmGJQck
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) August 3, 2016
— Evan Rosenfeld (@Evan_Rosenfeld) August 3, 2016
JUST IN: Obama shortens sentences of 214 federal prisoners, the most commutations in one day in over a century https://t.co/iD2QZSMyhu
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 3, 2016
How does everyone seem to be an expert on the history of presidential commutations? Easy; the White House included the statistics in a blog post boasting of the president’s almost unprecedented feat.
President Obama Commutes the Sentences of 214 Additional People https://t.co/ZXJz5jYaux
— The White House Blog (@blog44) August 3, 2016
Neil Eggleston, White House counsel to the president, writes:
This news likely carries special weight to the 67 individuals serving life sentences – almost all for nonviolent drug crimes – who, up until today, could only imagine what it might be like to once again attend a loved one’s birthday party, walk their child to school, or simply go to the grocery store.
Take a moment to dry your eyes and note that almost all of the prisoners whose sentences were commuted were jailed for nonviolent drug crimes. Of course, a handful were found guilty of using or carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, possession of stolen firearm, or being a felon in possession of a firearm.
What’s a handful? A quick review of the list of Wednesday’s commutations shows more than 50 prisoners convicted of firearms violations. But isn’t that society’s fault for flooding communities with so many guns that it’s easier for a teenager to buy (or steal) a Glock than to get his hands on a book or a computer?
Another quick fact: although many of the convicts were felons in possession of firearms, the White House in its blog post has decided to adhere to its policy of not using the word felon, on the super-scientific assertion that no punishment is harsher than being permanently branded a “felon” or “offender,” as those labels drain convicts’ sense of self-worth and perpetuate a cycle of crime.