Today, the President granted commutation to 330 individuals. The President has now granted commutation to a total of 1,715 individuals, including 568 people who had been sentenced to life in prison. The vast majority of these men and women are serving unduly long sentences for drug crimes. With today’s action, the President has granted more commutations than any president in this nation’s history and has surpassed the number of commutations granted by the past 13 presidents combined. The President set out to reinvigorate clemency, and he has done just that.
In 2014, the President directed officials at the Department of Justice to undertake an ambitious effort: encourage federal inmates serving sentences imposed under outdated laws to apply for clemency. With assistance from the Clemency Project 2014 and volunteer attorneys throughout the country, federal inmates applied for clemency in staggering numbers. The Deputy Attorney General and the Pardon Attorney – and their respective offices – worked vigorously to review these applications. Less than three years later, the President has now granted commutation to more than 1,700 individuals, the overwhelming majority of whom were serving sentences under outdated and overly harsh drug sentencing laws. Many of these individuals were assisted by Clemency Project 2014, and many will be assisted by the Stanford Justice Advocacy Project in their reentry efforts. The President’s vision could not have been realized without this support.
To the President’s 1,715 commutation recipients and 212 pardon recipients – you have been granted a second chance because the President sees the potential in you. After reviewing each of your stories, the President concluded that you have taken substantial steps to remedy your past mistakes and that you are deserving of a second chance. You and your stories have been essential to the President’s successful exercise of his clemency authority. Stories of rehabilitation and growth, of families reunited, and lives turned around – these are the stories that demonstrate why our nation is a nation of second chances. As the President has written to you, your example will influence whether someone in similar circumstances will get his or her own second chance in the future. Make the President proud with how you use your second chance.
Neil Eggleston is Counsel to the President.