Last week, President Barack Obama announced that he had commuted the sentences of 42 inmates convicted of drug offenses as part of his ongoing effort against “outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws.”
The White House statement said: “The individuals receiving a presidential commutation today have more than repaid their debt to society and earned this second chance.”
The 42 were serving sentences of up to life in prison for non-violent offenses. The statement noted that Obama has now commuted the sentences of 348 such convicts—more than the past seven presidents combined.
However, these figures have to be kept in perspective. Nearly 10,000 non-violent offenders who would have likely received substantially lower sentences if convicted of the same offenses today have applied to the White House for clemency. The list is getting longer, not shorter.