President Obama commuted 79 inmates’ prison sentences on Tuesday. These 79 inmates bring his total number of commutations to 1,023. He currently has more commutations on his record than the previous 11 presidents combined. The president appears to be spending his remaining months in office dedicated to an aggressive push of his clemency initiative, which he began in 2014.
Just one week prior, family members of current inmates petitioned President Obama to grant clemency at a quicker pace.
“To me it feel like a last battle cry,” wrote 39-year-old Jason Hernandez, who was granted clemency in 2013. “President Obama, if he wants to leave his legacy as far as clemency, he has fewer than 60, 70 days to do that, because everyone feels that the door will close as soon as he leaves office.” The criminal justice system gave Hernandez a life sentence, compared to his supplier’s 12 years, since he converted the drugs in his possession to crack cocaine.
These families are worried that president-elect Donald Trump will do very little on the topic of criminal justice reform. Their fears might have been validated following the announcement Trump chose controversial figure Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to serve in his administration as U.S. Attorney General. Sessions’ outdated views on criminal justice as well as the Drug War represent everything constitutional criminal justice reform advocates have fought against.
In August, Obama’s set the record for the most commutations in a single day since 1900 by forgiving the sentences of 214 nonviolent inmates. 67 of the chosen prisoners were serving life sentences.
Earlier in the year, Obama invited some who had their sentences commuted in both his administration and former president George W. Bush’s administration out to lunch at a D.C. establishment. There, he spoke of criminal justice reform:
(H/T The Hill)