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President grants record number of commutations

President Barack Obama granted clemency to 111 more federal inmates last Tuesday, bringing his grand total for the month of August to a record-breaking 325 clemency grants. In fact, Obama has granted a 673 commutations in all, which means that he has granted more commutations than the previous 10 presidents' records combined, and he's far from done with the process.

The White House has been going through about 11,477 backlogged federal petitions of prisoners who have requested release, but not all prisoners are getting the clemency they've asked for. On Aug. 8, Obama denied 2,227 requests.

The Obama administration has been working for two years to review and decide potential commutations in an effort to use the presidents' constitutional power to pardon prisoners. Part of the effort reflects the fact that Congress shortened the sentences for specific drug crimes, but it hasn't reduced sentences retroactively.

Obama has defended his effort to commute prisoners by saying that there is a bipartisan consensus to reform unfairly severe drug-related sentences, but efforts have been stalled, so his action is required. Obama said that crime has been lowering across the country but nonviolent offenders are still being incarcerated, which has devastated communities that have had many of their men, and certain women, taken from them. This has caused children to grow up without parents and created a perpetual cycle of disorder and poverty.

Because of the severe nature of punishments related to certain drug crimes, accused persons may want to devise a well-crafted criminal defense strategy to employ during their court proceedings. If successful, an accused person may be able to get his or her charges dropped or dismissed, or use plea bargaining and other strategies to try to obtain a less severe punishment.

Source: USA Today, "With 111 more commutations, Obama has nearly doubled his total in one month," Gregory Korte, Aug. 30, 2016

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