The number of prisoners whose sentences have been commuted under Obama's administration grew to 562 on Wednesday [August 3], after he shortened the terms of 214 federal inmates. It is the most any President has cut in one day, in over a century. Of those who were granted an early release on Wednesday, 67 had been serving life sentences, bringing the number of prisoners who he's saved from living out their lives in a cell, to almost 200.
Obama's total number of commutations, since taking office in 2009, has surpassed that of the past nine Presidents combined. And he may not be done yet, as civil liberties groups have been pressuring him to pick up the pace on granting commutations before he exits office in January. According to NYU School of Law's Clemency Resource Center, approximately 1,500 of the 11,000 petitions pending review meet the administration's criteria for commutation. "We are not done yet," said Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates of the move. "We expect that many more men and women will be given a second chance through the clemency initiative."
Most of the inmates in question are nonviolent convicts with offenses related to the sale of drugs and other narcotic based activities. Throughout his Presidency Obama has been critical about excessive sentencing, and adamant about reversing the criminal justice system's approach to punishing non-violent criminals. Applications for clemency are reviewed with consideration for those who might benefit from post-prison reintegration programs, whether they be for drug treatment or educational programming and counseling.