President Obama continued to commute the sentences of U.S. prisoners at a record rate, adding 214 more names to a list that has grown to 562. That’s more than the last nine presidents commuted in total. The number of commutations issued by Obama is already twice what it was in 2015, with five months remaining in the year — and in Obama’s second term. 197 of the total so far have been granted to prisoners serving life sentences.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates promised the President would use the remainder of his time in office to free more prisoners, especially those incarcerated under Nixon-era drug laws, many now repealed, which are recognized by critics as having a built-in bias against African Americans and other minorities. Yates said in a statement:
“Today’s historic announcement is yet another step in the administration’s efforts to restore proportionality to unnecessarily long drug sentences. In just the first eight months of 2016, the President has more than doubled the number of commutations granted in all of 2015. But we are not done yet, and we expect that many more men and women will be given a second chance through the Clemency Initiative.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 3, 2016