On Oct. 27, the White House announced that President Barack Obama had commuted, or reduced, the sentencings of ninety-eight inmates, most of which were convicted of nonviolent drug charges. This comes as a direct attempt to bring old sentencings up to current standards. Prior conditions for sentencing included a strict implementation of “mandatory minimums”, a condition that has now been replaced. It has been a highly vocalized goal of Obama’s to combat the severe sentencing practices from more than twenty years ago that were presumably brought on by the “war on drugs”. Obama has taken large strides towards his goal by recognizing that many of these individuals “made mistakes at a young age” but have “diligently worked to rehabilitate themselves while incarcerated”.
Obama has commuted more sentences than the combined eleven presidents before him. To date, Obama has commuted the sentences of 872 individuals, 688 of which took place in 2016 alone. Now within the last stretch of Obama’s tenure, the number of inmates who have applied for pardons or commutation has exponentially increased, pushing the Obama administration to acknowledge as many requests as possible before he leaves office this coming January.