Obama Commutes Sentences for 214 Inmates

Thomson Correctional Center
Thomson Correctional Center / AP

President Obama shortened the prison sentences for 214 federal inmates on Wednesday, the largest number of commutations in a single day in over a century.

Sixty-seven of the inmates were in prison with life sentences, and most of the commutations were for convictions connected with drug offenses. Some of the convictions were also firearm-related.

This is not the first time Obama has commuted the sentences of federal inmates, although this is the largest single batch in more than a century.

The president has sought to mitigate the punishments for nonviolent drug offenders, as the Associated Press reported.

Obama’s push to lessen the burden on nonviolent drug offenders reflects his long-stated view that the U.S. needs to remedy the consequences of decades of onerous sentencing requirements that put tens of thousands behind bars for far too long. Obama has used the aggressive pace of his commutations to increase pressure on Congress to pass a broader fix and to call more attention to the issue.

Obama has commuted more sentences than the past nine presidents combined–562 during his presidency–according to the White House, nearly 200 of which affected prisoners serving life sentences.

Most of those who were commuted will be released December 1.

The AP noted that Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said the Obama administration will have more commutations before the end of Obama’s term in office.

"We are not done yet," Yates said. "We expect that many more men and women will be given a second chance through the clemency initiative."