President Obama today commuted the sentences of eight men and women convicted of crack cocaine offenses, each of whom has served more than 15 years in prison.
"Commuting the sentences of these eight Americans is an important step toward restoring fundamental ideals of justice and fairness," the president said in a written statement.
The Obama administration has long pushed to change what it considers to be unduly harsh sentences issued under an outdated sentencing regime. In 2010, the president signed the bipartisan Fair Sentencing Act, which narrowed the disparity between penalties for crack and powder cocaine offenses.
"This law began to right a decades-old injustice, but for thousands of inmates, it came too late. If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society," Obama said today.
The president also called on lawmakers to act on sentencing reform measures. "Together, we must ensure that our taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, and that our justice system keeps its basic promise of equal treatment for all," he said.
Obama also granted pardons to 13 others for a range of crimes, including mail fraud, money laundering and bank robbery.