President Obama today granted commutations of sentence to 95 federal prisoners, all but two of them serving time for drug-related charges.
It is the largest single group of commutations issued by Obama and brings the total number he has issued to 184, according to U.S. Justice Department statistics.
The White House has said it plans to make prison sentencing reform a signature aspect of his legacy and has taken particular aim at long-term mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenders that were issued under the Anti-Drug Act of 1986.
“That’s an area where I think we will be able to make a big difference,” Obama told reporters at his year-end news conference. “I still want to work with Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to reform our criminal justice system.”
Obama said the men and women whose sentences he commuted today had “served their debt to society” and that his action marked “another step forward in upholding our ideals of justice and fairness.”
The U.S. Sentencing Commission in November released roughly 6,000 federal inmates from custody, the largest single release in history.
Today’s presidential commutations follow two previous announcements of clemency grants by the president earlier this year. Among those who had their sentences commuted was Shauna Barry-Scott of Youngstown, Ohio. ABC News profiled the story of her release along with an in-depth look at the entire issue of presidential pardons.