President Obama cut short the prison sentences of 22 drug convicts Tuesday, yesterday, continuing a drive he launched more than a year ago to allow early release of some prisoners sentenced under harsh laws enacted at the height of the war on drugs, Politico reports. For the first time, the commutations included two petitions submitted by Clemency Project 2014, an effort launched by several private organizations and federal public defenders to provide attorneys for prisoners seeking to file applications under the president's effort to reduce drug sentences.
Politico reported earlier that Obama's commutation effort was struggling to take off, stymied by a lack of resources at the Justice Department office that processes clemency applications and by a flood of requests for counsel that swamped the legal service project set up by the American Civil Liberties Union, Families Against Mandatory Minimums and others. The 22 new commutations come atop 21 earlier ones issued by Obama. While recent numbers remain modest, they far outstrip the one commutation he issued in his first term.