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President Obama on Friday commuted the sentences of 42 inmates, as he accelerates his effort to free prisoners burdened with lengthy sentences in the government’s war on drugs.
Nearly half were granted to people serving life sentences, mostly for convictions related to crack or cocaine possession and distribution.
Most will be released on Oct. 1, but some will be freed next June.
Obama has issued 348 commutations during his time in office, more than the previous seven presidents combined, according to the White House. Among those freed include 130 who were serving life sentences.
The president has said he will continue to grant commutations during his final months in office to nonviolent offenders who meet standards laid out by the Justice Department.
It’s the third round of commutations for drug offenders the White House has announced this year.
Thousands have applied for relief under the administration’s clemency initiative, which began two years ago. Around 9,000 applications are still pending.
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 hopes his clemency initiative will curtail sentences he views as unjust while highlighting the push for criminal justice reform in Congress.
Most of the inmates whose sentences were commuted were not convicted of violent crimes; 10 committed firearms-related offenses.
Reducing sentences for nonviolent drug offenders is a central pillar of Obama’s push to rewrite the country’s sentencing laws.
A rare bipartisan coalition has emerged behind a package of laws that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for certain nonviolent offenders.
But the future of the legislation is murky, in part because there are few legislative days left this year due to the November elections.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFixing Congress requires fixing how it legislates McConnell: GOP should focus on future, not 'rehash' 2020 Hoyer: Democrats 'committed' to Oct. 31 timeline for Biden's agenda MORE (R-Ky.) has not pledged to hold a vote on the measure. Several Republican senators object to the legislation, saying it would put more dangerous criminals on the street.
White House counsel Neil Eggleston urged lawmakers to pass the legislation.
“Despite these important efforts, only legislation can bring about lasting change to the federal system,” he wrote in a blog post. “It is critical that both the House and the Senate continue to cooperate on a bipartisan basis to get a criminal justice reform bill to the president's desk.”