President Obama commuted lengthy prison sentences Wednesday for eight people convicted of drug offenses and issued pardons to 12 other federal convicts.
The drug sentences ranged from 16 years to life imprisonment, and administration officials said the president’s actions were consistent with his push to reduce sentences for certain drug offenses, particularly involving crack cocaine.
Mr. Obama also issued pardons for 12 people on offenses ranging from theft of bank funds to running an illegal distillery.
The actions bring the total number of clemency grants by Mr. Obama to 64 pardons and 21 commutations. In his first term, Mr. Obama pardoned 22 people — fewer than any other modern president — and commuted one sentence.
President Clinton commuted 61 sentences, and President George W. Bush commuted 11. Mr. Clinton issued 396 pardons, compared with 189 for Mr. Bush.
Two of those pardoned Wednesday were from Mr. Obama’s home state of Illinois, including a former Chicago Mercantile Exchange member convicted of wire fraud. Brian Edward Sledz of Naperville was sentenced in 1993 to one year of probation and ordered to pay $8,300 in restitution after cooperating with prosecutors against other traders.
Mr. Obama also pardoned a Colorado man, David Neil Mercer of Grand Junction, who was sentenced to 36 months of probation in 1997 for his role in damaging American Indian remnants on federal land.