President Barack Obama took a major step toward reforming the criminal justice system on July 13. The POTUS announced in a video that he would be commuting the prison sentences of 46 drug offenders, whose punishments, he felt, did not match their crimes.
46 prisoners were granted clemency on July 13, by none other than Barack Obama himself. The President announced his decision to commute the convicted criminals, all of whom were non-violent drug offenders, based on the findings that they had already served far longer than their crimes warranted.
Obama’s decision was just one part of his attempt to reform the criminal justice system, and he explained the decision in a video posted to Facebook. “These men and women were not hardened criminals, but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years,” he revealed. “14 of them had been sentenced to life for non-violent drug offenses. So their punishments, didn’t fit the crime. And if they’d been sentenced under today’s laws, nearly all of them would have already served their time.”
One of the commuted prisoners was the mom of Denver Broncos wide receiver, Demaryius Thomas, who’s been behind bars for 15 years, and was in the middle of serving a 20-year sentence for distributing crack cocaine. She was convicted when Demaryius was only 12 years old, and is finally expected to be released, along with the other 45 inmates, in Nov. 2015.
But heading back to a regular life won’t be easy for the prisoners: They’ll be supervised by probation officers and subject to certain conditions, which may include drug testing. I’ve made clear to them that reentering society is going to require responsibility on their part and hard work and smarter choices,” the President added. “But I believe that, at it’s heart, America is a nation of second chances and I believe these folks deserve their second chance.”
Now, throughout his term, Obama has granted nearly 90 commutations, most of which were criminals convicted for drug offenses. Just to note: a commutation does not erase these offenders’ criminal convictions, like a presidential pardon would, it just reduces the sentence.
HollywoodLifers, what do you think of Obama’s decision?
— Alyssa Norwin