President Obama commuted the prison sentences Wednesday of 22 people convicted of drug dealing, mostly crack cocaine, including some who were caught selling in school zones.
Many of the defendants were serving terms of life in prison; Mr. Obama’s action will release them at the end of July.
One of them, Herman Rosenboro of Kingsport, Tennessee, had been convicted of possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Another, Lawrence Elmo Scott of Lynchburg, Virginia, was convicted of selling crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school.
The Justice Department announced a new commutation drive last year aimed primarily at cutting the sentences of individuals serving long prison terms for trafficking in crack cocaine, who tend to be minorities.
Mr. Obama signed a law in 2010 that reduced the disparity of prison terms for crack cocaine offenses compared with crimes involving the powder form of cocaine.
The Justice Department’s drive has drawn the ire of new Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, who is exploring the formal arrangement between the department and advocacy groups pushing for the leniency.