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Obama Commutes Hundreds of Drug Sentences

Jan. 24, 2017

Some Florida residents might be among the 330 whose drug sentences were commuted at the end of the Obama presidency. The commutations, made by Obama on his final full day in office, totaled more on one day that at any other time in history. In all, Obama commuted the sentences of 568 inmates serving a life sentence. During his presidency, his commutations reached an all-time historical high of 1,715. Obama had tried to get Congress to pass broader criminal justice reform, but he was not successful. The commutations were part of his overall effort, however.

Obama felt that drug sentencing laws had been unnecessarily harsh in many cases. Among the people who will be leaving prison early as a result of the commutations is a man who has 10 years left on a 22-year sentence. The man had obtained and sold marijuana, but since his brother sold crack cocaine in the same deal, the man was charged with dealing cocaine as well. However, the man will still not be released for two more years and must enter a drug treatment program.

During the Obama administration, the Justice Department worked with prosecutors to reduce mandatory minimum sentencing for drug crimes. Obama focused on commuting the sentences of inmates he felt had worked hard to change their lives while in prison.

As this need for commutations demonstrates, drug charges may lead to severe consequences. This may be the case even when a person is not directly involved in distributing dangerous drugs as was the case with the man whose brother sold cocaine. Therefore, a person who is facing drug charges might want to speak to an attorney to see if a strategy can be constructed to counter the allegations.