President Obama granted clemency to 102 inmates yesterday as he continues to release federal inmates serving long prison terms for nonviolent drug offenses. Obama has now commuted the sentences of 774 federal inmates, more than the previous 11 presidents combined, the Washington Post reports. With 590 commutations this year, the president has commuted more individuals’ sentences in one year than in any single year in U.S. history, White House officials said. Over the past three months, Obama has significantly increased the number of commutations granted under an initiative launched in 2014 to provide relief to drug offenders who were not convicted of violent crimes and who would be sentenced to far less time under today’s drug laws.
Sentencing reform advocates have urged the Justice Department to move more quickly to review thousands of clemency requests that have poured in from individual prisoners and from Clemency Project 2014, a large group of lawyers working pro bono to represent the inmates and help them prepare petitions. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said the Justice Department “has made great progress reviewing applications.”