President Obama used his executive authority last week to commute the sentences of 22 prisoners serving time for drug-related offenses. The act has almost doubled the number of sentences the president has commuted since taking office over seven years ago.
This move was an attempt to mitigate mandatory minimum sentencing at a federal level. The prisoners had all been convicted of offenses ranging from the distribution of heroin and methamphetamine to growing marijuana. 8 of the 22 had their sentences commuted because of an outdating sentencing program, which had them serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Under new sentencing guidelines, these prisoners would have already served their full term by now, but some have done over a decade more jail time than they would if they were convicted of the same crime today.
In order for a convict to qualify for commutation, they would have had to display a clean record and have given no indication that they would pose a threat to society if they were to be released. Obama has stated in a letter sent to the 22 individuals that they have been selected because of the potential they have displayed to turn their lives around.
“Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity,” Obama wrote. “It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. Perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances.”