IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Obama Commutes 'Harsh' Sentences for Over 100 Inmates

The Obama administration has commuted sentences for over 670 federal inmates — more than the past 10 presidents combined.
Image: Barack Obama
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla on July 16, 2015.Evan Vucci / AP

Another 111 federal inmates saw their prison sentences reduced by the Obama administration on Tuesday, including nearly three dozen people with life sentences.

The commutations, on top of 214 that were announced earlier this month, bring the total since Obama took office to over 670 — more than the past 10 presidents combined, according to the Department of Justice.

Department of Justice

"The 325 commutations the president has granted in just one month is more than any president granted in a single year for nearly a century," the White House added.

Obama has focused on granting clemency for inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses and serving sentences that, if those same people were found guilty today, would not be as long.

"They are individuals who received unduly harsh sentences under outdated laws for committing largely nonviolent drug crimes, for example, the 35 individuals whose life sentences were commuted today," the White House said. "For each of these applicants, the president considers the individual merits of each application to determine that an applicant is ready to make use of his or her second chance."

The inmates have been convicted of offenses ranging from distributing to possessing narcotics such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Some are now set to be freed just before New Year's Day, although many will still be required to enroll in a drug treatment program.

One of those granted relief was Tim Tyler, who at 25 was sentenced to life in federal prison for selling LSD while traveling the country following the Grateful Dead. The sentence now will expire on August 30, 2018, conditioned upon joining drug treatment.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums, an advocacy group, said it had been working on the Tyler family's behalf.

"Mandatory sentences, and especially mandatory life sentences for nonviolent offenses, should be abandoned once and for all," Julie Stewart, the group's president, told The Associated Press. "We applaud the president for using the clemency power to free people who fully expected to die in prison and for shining a light on the excesses of federal drug sentencing."

The White House said additional commutations are expected before the end of Obama's term.

The Associated Press contributed.