PRESIDENT OBAMA began August by commuting the sentences of 214 federal inmates, and he ended the month by commuting 111 more. Generally the pardon and commutation power is used sparingly and gets attention only when presidents use it to help cronies or former staffers. Now it is being used to commute the sentences of people who could not spare a dime to donate to a political campaign. This is a historic milestone — but it is also not nearly enough.Mr. Obama’s August tally is the highest one-month presidential commutation total ever — even including those last-minute flurries of commutations and pardons presidents typically unleash during their final days in office. In a single month, Mr. Obama doubled the number of sentences he has shortened since taking office — to 673. His accelerating pace reflects an initiative to use the commutation power with more ambition than any modern president. His cumulative total is higher than that of the past 10 presidents combined.
The president has the power to shorten sentences in order to compensate for inequities in the justice system, an authority and responsibility that most neglect. Two years ago, the Obama Justice Department announced a program to encourage certain types of federal prisoners to petition for clemency. Mr. Obama chose to target inmates who are serving long sentences for nonviolent crimes, mostly drug-related, and who would be sentenced more leniently under current rules. The White House points out that more than a third of those the president has commuted were serving life sentences, even though they were relatively low-level offenders.
Sunday, September 04, 2016
Should Obama be doing even more with his commutation power?
The WP says yes. From the intro: