President Obama treated seven former inmates to an afternoon out Wednesday that included meeting in the Roosevelt Room and continued on to Busboys and Poets in downtown Washington, D.C.
The Hill reported that since it turned out Obama had an opening in his schedule, he took them to lunch to hear more about their transition back into society after being pardoned from prison. These people were chosen because they turned their lives around after being either commuted or granted clemency:
One of the participants, Serena Nunn, received a 15-year sentence in 1989 for a cocaine-related offense. Clinton granted her clemency in 2000, and she went on to become a public defender in Atlanta after graduating from the University of Michigan Law School.
This news comes the same day he commuted the sentences of 61 other inmates. The lunch was meant to draw attention to Obama’s implementation of criminal justice reforms over his two terms in office.
Obama took the group to Busboys and Poets, a popular eatery on Washington’s bustling 14th St. NW.
Three people whose sentences were commuted by Obama were joined by two who were freed by former President George W. Bush and two by former President Bill Clinton.
Obama is expected to discuss their experiences reentering society and hear their thoughts on how to better ease the transition for ex-convicts.
The lunch meeting came on the same day Obama commuted sentences for 61 federal prisoners convicted of drug offenses. Those prisoners have not yet been freed and did not eat with Obama.
The events are designed to call attention to Obama’s criminal justice reform push, an issue that has faded to the background in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign.
The president greeted the group in the Roosevelt Room of the White House and posed for a group picture in the Oval Office before departing.
“Turns out I’ve got an opening in my schedule, so let’s have some lunch,” he told the group during an encounter that was broadcast on Facebook.