Obama Issues Year-End Commutations For Drug Crimes | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Obama Issues Year-End Commutations For Drug Crimes

President Obama has commuted the sentences of eight people convicted of drug crimes, saying their terms were unusually harsh due to a system that treated crack cocaine as a more serious offense than powder cocaine.

The president also pardoned 13 others convicted of various other offenses.

The commutations come after the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which is aimed at reducing disparities in the way the law treats cocaine possession.

"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 in a written statement.

"Instead, because of a disparity in the law that is now recognized as unjust, they remain in prison, separated from their families and their communities, at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars each year."

Reuters says:

"The eight have each served more than 15 years in prison. A White House official said their sentences had been unduly harsh and helped contribute to 'an expensive and ineffective overcrowding of our prisons.' "

The Associated Press writes:

"Previously, Obama had commuted only one sentence in the five years of his presidency, involving another drug case. He previously had pardoned 39 people. A pardon forgives a crime and wipes out the conviction, while a commutation leaves the conviction but ends the punishment.

"In August, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a major shift in federal sentencing policies, targeting long mandatory terms that he said have flooded the nation's prisons with low-level drug offenders and diverted crime-fighting dollars that could be far better spent."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

A Woman Uses Art To Come To Terms With Her Father's Death

Artist Jennifer Rodgers' father was hospitalized for seven months with sepsis before he died. She used the creative process to try to comprehend his suffering and her loss.
NPR

'Into The Wild' Author Tries Science To Solve Toxic Seed Mystery

Jon Krakauer has long been haunted by how Christopher McCandless died in the Alaskan wilderness. In a scientific journal, he and a chemist show that the seeds McCandless consumed can contain a toxin.
NPR

5 Things You Should Know About Ben Carson

The pediatric neurosurgeon, who entered the presidential race Sunday night, performed pioneering operations on conjoined twins and hasn't held public office before. Here's what you might not know.
NPR

The Promise And Potential Pitfalls Of Apple's ResearchKit

Apple's new mobile software platform is designed to help collect data for medical research, but concerns have been raised about privacy and informed consent.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.