On Monday, Obama pardoned 78 people and commuted the sentences of 153 inmates – the largest number of grants of clemency in a single day. The move comes as the president has already issued a plethora of clemency grants during his waning days in office.
Justice reform advocates are putting the pressure on Obama as the presidency of Donald Trump nears. They fear his stance as a law-and-order candidate will mean the end of clemency once he takes over the White House.
As it stands now, Obama has pardoned a grand total of 148 people as president. He also commuted the sentences of 1,176 people (395 were serving life sentences).
Obama began his clemency initiative in 2014 after attempts to reform the criminal justice system, specifically regarding the War on Drugs, proved to be unsuccessful. He has gone on to grant more clemency than any other president before him.
The uptick in clemency will certainly change when Trump’s administration begins in late January. Incoming attorney general Jeff Sessions has not been a fan of Obama’s pardons. He criticized his initiative and said it was “an alarming abuse of the pardon power.”
Obama’s supporters, however, say he is not doing enough.