Obama's Biggest Commutation Announcement Yet Will Help More than 200 Imprisoned in Drug War

Justice Department still expects more before presidency ends.


Today President Barack Obama came close to doubling the number of people to whom his administration has extended clemency. The Department of Justice announced that 214 more people serving federal time in prison have been granted commutations. This announcement puts the total at 562.

Barack Obama
Cheriss May/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/Newscom

Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed was granted the scoop this time before the full list of names was released. An official from the Justice Department told BuzzFeed they're expecting additional commutation announcements in the time Obama has remaining in office.

Those receiving commuted sentences are all imprisoned for drug-related, non-violent crimes. Many of them are in federal prison for enhanced sentences related to crack instead of powder cocaine. Legislation has changed the sentencing laws so that crack sentences are now closer to parity with powder cocaine sentences, but the changes have not yet been made retroactive to those currently serving prison time.

Of the people receiving commutations, BuzzFeed notes, 67 were serving life sentences. Not all of those granted commutations will be released in the near future. A lot of them have been scheduled to be released in December, but others will have to continue serving until summer of 2018 and may have to enroll in residential drug treatment programs as a condition of release.

Read through the list of federal prisoners who will receive the president's mercy here. And below, ReasonTV interviewed three federal prisoners who previously received commutations: