Boosting his agenda to reform the criminal justice system, President Obama commuted the prison sentences of 46 people—all of which were convicted of non-violent, low-level drug offense.
A commutation does not dismiss the conviction, however, it releases the punishment. Obama, in a statement upon releasing the 46 prisoners, claims, "at its heart, America is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve their second chance."
So far, Obama has granted nearly 90 commutations in his time in office. Obama has received requests from 30,000 inmates but most of them did not qualify as they are not in federal prisons or have been charged with a violent crime.
As Obama's term comes to a close, part of his final agenda includes focusing on criminal justice reform. In addition to commuting prison sentences, he also plans on speaking at the NAACP in Philadelphia on Tuesday. He will also be the first president visiting a federal prison.
Bruce Todd, and Katrina Stuckley Smith were two of the 46 offenders commuted by Obama Monday. Both were convicted of possession and distribution of crack cocaine.
As each hand written letter was read, joy filled the hearts of each of the former prisoners. Now, these individuals have the opportunity to prosper and take on a life free of crime. President Obama personally wrote,
"I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around," Obama wrote. "Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. Perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances. But remember that you have the capacity to make good choices."
While Obama is set to commute more sentences before he leaves office, it is noted by White House counsel Neil Eggleston that "clemency alone will not fix decades of overly punitive sentencing policies."