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More sentences commuted for some drug offenders

Detainees in Florida federal prisons who are planning to plead for a sentence reduction under the Obama administration's 2014 clemency initiative may want to know that the effort is unlikely to continue once President-elect Donald Trump takes office, according to news sources. Following Obama's granting of 79 commutations on Nov. 22, a statement released by the director of one criminal justice reform group indicated that the president can and must step up the pace before time runs out on his administration.

The latest group of commutations brings the total number of people who have been granted sentence reductions by President Obama to 1,023, but a substantial number of applications remain pending. Reuters reported that as of Aug. 31, 6,000 letters, which had been previously submitted in connection with a pleading for clemency, had not yet been addressed.

In an earlier statement, the White House explained the clemency initiative by saying that the effort was meant to counteract the effect of antiquated laws that imposed sentences that were unfit for the crimes committed. Under the initiative, President Obama has largely granted commutations to non-violent drug offenders, reducing their sentences but not allowing them to immediately go free.

It is unclear at this point whether Trump will take any steps to address what advocates have called "outdated and unduly harsh" sentencing laws when his administration takes over. In the meantime, people who find themselves facing non-violent drug charges may find it beneficial to seek legal counsel regarding their defense options early in the process.

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