President Obama Grants More Clemency to Individuals, Illegal Immigrant Status Not Included

President Obama breaks his old clemency record.

President Obama breaks his old clemency record.

New Clemency Record For President Obama

Washington, DC – December 19, 2016, President Obama granted clemency to 231 individuals; this was the largest single day act of his presidency.  He has granted clemency to 1,324 individuals during his two terms in office.

The latest clemency included 153 commutations, which brings the total number of commutations while the President was in office to 1,176.  Several of the commutations involved drug charges.  395 of those commutations were for life sentences.

President Obama also granted pardons to 78 individuals, which totals 148 for his eight years in office.  According to Neil Eggleston, White House Counsel, the President is expected to issue even more grants of commutations and pardons before leaving office.  The President has said that “he hopes to bring the existing sentences of inmates more in line with current laws, which have been relaxed after an era of strict mandatory minimums mostly related to non-violent drug crimes.”  White House Counsel Eggleston also said that “The 231 individuals granted clemency today have all demonstrated that they are ready to make use — or have already made use — of a second chance. While each clemency recipient’s story is unique, the common thread of rehabilitation underlies all of them.”

Advocates for sentence reforms have said that they feel a sense of urgency because they do not believe President-Elect Trump and his administration will continue Obama’s initiative to provide relief to nonviolent drug offenders.  Attorney General Loretta Lynch was asked about the status of young, undocumented immigrants and whether they could be pardoned before President Obama leaves office.  She said that “The issue of pardoning someone is an individual decision that’s made on a case-by-case basis, and so there’s no legal framework or regulatory framework that allows for a pardon of a group en masse.”  House Democrats have long called on the President to pardon this particular group’s immigration status.

It’s not clear how the White House is classifying “non-violent” offenders, as the term is now just PR language. California’s recently passed Proposition 57 grants leniency to “non-violent” offenders, who actually committed horrific violent crimes.

The high number of individuals that have been granted clemency is concerning. Releasing people early to test out if the are rehabilitated may result is many more victims before they are removed from society again.

What are your thoughts about the high number of individuals that the President is granting clemency to?  Let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.