Today, President Obama met with Americans who have received commutations on prison sentences during his presidency, and under previous administrations. Today, Obama commuted the sentences of 61 more people who were convicted of federal drug and firearm crimes. More than than a third of them were serving life in prison.
One of the prisoners pardoned today was Weldon Angelos, a man who was serving 55 years for carrying a gun while he sold small bags of weed to an undercover cop.
The New York Times editorial board points out that there are some 10,000 more requests waiting. Obama is one of the stingiest presidents in American history, when it comes to presidential pardons.
While that’s better than nothing, it is nowhere near the action needed to rectify the injustice suffered by thousands of low-level, nonviolent inmates who still languish in federal prison, serving sentences far longer than what would be imposed under today’s laws. Keeping people like this locked up for years costs not only taxpayers, but society as a whole.
In 2014, the Justice Department said it would begin a new initiative that would rely on the president’s pardon power to reduce the prison terms of drug offenders sentenced under old laws. Yet with more than 10,000 clemency applications still waiting for resolution, Mr. Obama has issued only 248 commutations.