A study by New York University analysts showed that carrying 500 grams of powder cocaine bears the same penalties as possessing 28 grams of crack, even though they are similar, in a molecular sense. This is an example of laws being manipulated to be more heavy-handed with folks in the hood than elsewhere. President Barack Obama isn’t with it. As the term of his presidency winds down, the Obama administration has made waves by freeing thousands of non-violent drug offenders. His streak of commuting sentences continued this weekend as he freed 42 more prisoners.
Obama announced a comprehensive clemency program in 40 years in April, 2014. His administration also expanded criteria for inmates applying for clemency, targeting nonviolent offenders, who have behaved well in prison and would have received shorter sentences if convicted of the same crime a few years later. In this endeavor, he has even received the support of Republican lawmakers, but efforts this year have been delayed due to chaotic presidential campaigns.
The majority of the names that appear on Pres. Obama’s latest list are non-violent offenders, some were convicted on firearm charges. Eighteen of the 42 were originally hit with life sentences. It is the belief of the White House that the individuals being freed have more than paid their debt to society and are well-deserving of second chances.
This weekend’s sentences commuted brings Pres. Obama’s personal total to 348, which is higher than the previous seven presidents combined.