In the next few weeks, President Barack Obama will reportedly issue orders to free dozens of nonviolent drug offenders from federal prisons, and is expected to commute more sentences at once than any president in almost 50 years.
Obama’s use of clemency power will reportedly only make a small dent in the tens of thousands of federal inmates who have applied for clemency.
According to reports, only a small portion of the more than 30,000 applications submitted advanced in the review process and just a small fraction of those reached Obama’s desk, reports The New York Times.
“I think they honestly want to address some of the people who have been oversentenced in the last 30 years,” Families Against Mandatory Minimums founder Julie Stewart said of the Obama administration’s push for clemency, reported The Boston Globe.
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“I’m not sure they envisioned that it would be as complicated as it is, but it has become more complicated, whether it needs to be or not, and that’s what has bogged down the process.”
The push for reform in the criminal justice system has proven to be a bipartisan effort, with Republicans calling for systemic changes and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle working together on legislation.
“It’s a time when conservatives and liberals and libertarians and lots of different people on the political spectrum” have worked together to “focus attention on excessive sentences, the costs and the like, and the need to correct some of those excesses,” White House counsel Neil Eggleston said. “So I think the president sees the commutations as a piece of that entire process.”
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