- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2017

President Obama commuted the sentences of 330 more federal prisoners on Thursday, the second batch of clemency grants in his final week in office.

Mr. Obama’s action brought the total number of commutations during his presidency to a record-breaking 1,715, far more than any president in history. The offenders whose sentences were cut short Thursday were in prison for drug crimes, many serving life prison terms under stiff penalties imposed decades ago.

Earlier this week, Mr. Obama issued pardons and commutations for 273 individuals, including military-secrets leaker Chelsea Manning.

Of the 330 individuals whose sentences were commuted Thursday, 78 had been convicted of firearms offenses along with drug crimes. Some of the individuals were convicted of trafficking in large amounts of drugs. For example, Maria Aide Delgado of Weslaco, Texas, was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 218.5 kilograms of marijuana in 2007.

White House counsel Neil Eggleston said the total commutations have included 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,” Mr. Eggleston said. “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.”

The final batch of commutations was the most by any U.S. president in a single day.

It brought to a close Mr. Obama’s initiative begun in 2014 to alleviate the impact of decades-old sentencing requirements that, the president said, put nonviolent offenders in prison for too long. Bipartisan legislation aimed at reforming the criminal-justice system has stalled in Congress, and the incoming Trump administration isn’t likely to continue Mr. Obama’s scale of clemency grants.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said the Office of the Pardon Attorney processed more than 16,000 petitions since the initiative began in April 2014.

“By restoring proportionality to unnecessarily long drug sentences, this administration has made a lasting impact on our criminal justice system,” she said.

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