President Obama commuted the sentences of 58 federal prisoners convicted of drug crimes, the White House announced Thursday.
Eighteen of the inmates were serving life sentences, mostly on crack- or cocaine-related charges. Most will be released on Sept. 2, but some will be freed early next year.
Obama shared the story of Phillip Emmert, who became a heating and air conditioning professional after his sentence was commuted by President George W. Bush.
“I’ve been working to bring about a more effective approach to our criminal justice system, particularly when it comes to drug crimes,” Obama wrote on the digital publishing site Medium.
“Part of that effort has been to reinvigorate our commutations process, and highlight the individuals like Philip who are doing extraordinary things with their second chances.”
It’s the second batch of commutations for drug offenders the White House has announced this year.
In March, Obama cut short the sentences of 61 drug offenders.
The president has commuted the sentences of 306 people during his seven-plus years in office, more than double the previous six presidents combined, according to the White House.
The White House has faced pressure from criminal justice reform advocates to speed up the pace of commutations with Obama’s time in office winding down.
The president, in turn, hopes exercising his clemency power will shine attention on the issue of criminal justice reform, which has slid into the background because of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Reducing sentences for nonviolent drug offenders is central to Obama’s push to rewrite the country’s sentencing laws.
Senators in both parties working on an overhaul last week announced a new compromise proposal. They believe the new plan addresses conservative complaints that the changes would result in violent criminals returning to the streets in droves.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 WATCH: The Hill recaps the top stories of the week MORE (R-Ky.) has yet to commit to holding a vote on the legislation this year.
Of Obama’s latest round of commutations, none of the inmates had been convicted of violent crimes.
- Updated at 3:27 p.m.