President Barack Obama has excused more than 20 people who were put behind bars for outdated laws.
It was a blow against unfairness in sentencing when the president commuted 22 drug sentences earlier today. The White House reports that the action doubled the amount of commutations he’s doled out over the course of his tenure.
“Added to his prior 21 commutations, the president has now granted 43 commutations total,” White House counsel Neil Eggleston said in a blog post, adding that this is nearly four times the number of commutations that former President George W. Bush ever issued during his two terms in office.
About eight of the people who President Obama pardoned were actually serving life sentences. However, had they been tried under the current system of laws, their convictions would have warranted much shorter sentences. “These older, stringent punishments that are out of line with sentences imposed under today’s laws erode people’s confidence in our criminal justice system,” Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said in a statement.
This is part of a clemency initiative that The White House announced last year that would prioritize applications for commutations and pardons from inmates that have served at least 10 years in prison.
The president offered each of the prisoners a word on encouragement in a letter, declaring, “I believe in your ability to prove the doubters wrong.”