Obama Commutes 58 More Drug Sentences

President Obama commuted 58 sentences today. 57 of the 58 inmates are drug offenders.

His statement is here. He called for Congress to reform unjust mandatory minimum sentences.

While I will continue to review clemency applications, only Congress can bring about the lasting changes we need to federal sentencing. That is why I am encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in Congress to reform federal sentencing laws, particularly on overly harsh mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. Because it just doesn’t make sense to require a nonviolent drug offender to serve 20 years, or in some cases, life, in prison. An excessive punishment like that doesn’t fit the crime. It’s not serving taxpayers, and it’s not making us safer.

This brings Obama's total number of commutations, to 306, which he says is more commutations than the last six presidents combined.

< Trump vs. Ryan | Friday Open Thread: Musing on Taco Bowls >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    There are probably tens of thousand of people (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Green26 on Sat May 07, 2016 at 12:20:37 AM EST
    maybe many more, like hundreds of thousands, who deserve this. Minor drug offenders, 3 strikes you're out people, and many others should not be in prison or jail. It's wrong, It's a waste of money. It's a waster of human life.  

    Yes, while I am glad that the President (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by Peter G on Sat May 07, 2016 at 11:01:50 AM EST
    is commuting more sentences one-at-a-time than his predecessors, a blanket commutation affecting thousands is what we need. Commutations done in the traditional way simple cannot correct all the errors and injustices of the federal war-on-drugs policies.

    Drug dealers (none / 0) (#3)
    by TrevorBolder on Sat May 07, 2016 at 12:33:00 PM EST
    Should have their sentences commuted?
    I haven't been convinced that drug dealers should not be arrested, and certainly not have their sentences commuted.
    They are not the innocent victims of a disease, but actually help spread the disease.


    (Federal Drug Prisoners by Offense, 2004) According to the Justice Department, 5.3% of drug offenders in federal prisons are serving time for possession; 91.4% are serving time for trafficking offenses; and 3.3% are in for "other."

    (Number of People Serving Time in Federal Prison in the US, 2014, by Offense) "Fifty percent (95,800) of sentenced inmates in federal prison on September 30, 2014 (the most recent date for which federal offense data are available) were serving time for drug offenses (table 12, appendix table 5). In comparison to the 53% in state prisons, violent offenders represented 7% of the federal prison population (14,000 prisoners).

    Type of drug offense (none / 0) (#4)
    by TrevorBolder on Sat May 07, 2016 at 12:34:41 PM EST

    (Estimated Number Of People In The US Sentenced To State and Federal Prison For Marijuana Offenses)

    Total Federal Prisoners 2004 = 170,535
    Total State Prisoners 2004 = 1,244,311

    Percent of federal prisoners held for drug law violations = 55%
    Percent of state prisoners held for drug law violations = 21%

    Marijuana/hashish, Percent of federal drug offenders, 2004 = 12.4%
    Marijuana/hashish, Percent of state drug offenders, 2004 = 12.7%

    (Total prisoners x percent drug law) x percent marijuana = "marijuana prisoners"

    Federal marijuana prisoners in 2004 = 11,630
    State marijuana prisoners in 2004 = 33,186
    Total federal and state marijuana prisoners in 2004 = 44,816

    Trevor, I doubt many people (none / 0) (#5)
    by fishcamp on Sat May 07, 2016 at 01:42:01 PM EST
    on this blog care if you're convinced or not.  I know I don't.  Jeralyn's and Peter' outlooks are the only realistic attitudes towRds solving the prisons overcrowding for drug offenses.  It must be especially bad for those inside for marijuana when it is now legal in their state.  The drug laws need to be changed.

    And Green is right too. (none / 0) (#6)
    by fishcamp on Sat May 07, 2016 at 01:44:14 PM EST
    I am pointing out (none / 0) (#7)
    by TrevorBolder on Sat May 07, 2016 at 03:03:54 PM EST
    The difference between possession and trafficking.

    I have no problems emptying the prisons of those convicted of possession,
    But according to the numbers, that is not the majority of the prison population, a small minority.

    Drug offenses for marijuana trafficking should be looked at, but those for hard drugs, cocaine, heroin, I would say no. Let the punishment of a jail sentence be a deterrent.

    I have seen too many victims of drug addiction and have no sympathy for those peddling it.


    If it's ok to smoke it (none / 0) (#8)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat May 07, 2016 at 04:12:46 PM EST
    Why shouldn't it be ok to sell it?

    De criminalized (none / 0) (#9)
    by TrevorBolder on Sat May 07, 2016 at 05:30:15 PM EST
    Is quite different than ok,

    Until it is legal, trafficking , especially large quantities should have a penalty attached to it.

    Based upon the data I found, I don't think the clemency would affect as many as some believe, unless they also intend to provide clemency to traffickers


    Can we redefine trafficking? (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jack E Lope on Tue May 10, 2016 at 05:08:26 PM EST
    From DEA Trafficking Penalties info, it looks to me as if growing one marijuana plant can lead to a trafficking charge:


    1 to 49 marijuana plants

    First Offense: Not more than 5 yrs.  Fine not more than $250,000, $1 million if other than an individual.
    Second Offense: Not more than 10 yrs.  Fine $500,000 if an individual, $2 million if other than individual.

    I don't know what other elements might be needed for a trafficking charge and what the courts find sufficient in recent years).

    Maybe the term "trafficking" leads people to picture something much worse than what it takes to convict someone.


    So, 2 guys growing 2 pot plants, 1st time caught (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Mr Natural on Tue May 10, 2016 at 09:46:24 PM EST
    means a one million dollar fine.

    Of course, perfect justice in The United States of America, Land of the Free, Home of the Imprisoned.


    Detroit's War on Rick (none / 0) (#10)
    by Mr Natural on Sat May 07, 2016 at 08:32:28 PM EST
    "White Boy Rick" aka Richard Wershe, Jr.

    CaseBlog of the investigative reporter who won't let go.

    The Michigan criminal justice system takes a back seat to no state when it comes to injustice and unequal punishment.