In just one day, President Obama commuted more sentences than the last six Presidents combined.
On Wednesday, President Obama cut short the sentences of 214 federal inmates, the most for a single day in over 100 years. That’s not the only record President Obama broke, as 214 is also more than Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford combined. The 214 commutations now bring President Obama’s total to 562, which is more than the last nine Presidents combined.
The Obama administration primarily focused on inmates convicted of non-violent drug offenses, as well as those serving sentences that, if they had been arrested for the same crime today, would have been shorter. They also reviewed clemency requests from those that had served at least 10 years of their sentence while exhibiting good behavior.
This comes as no surprise, however, as the Obama Administration has sought to change the criminal justice system by any means necessary. This is not to say these commutations are bad, or even that the President is not allowed to make them, but it does fit the common theme of the President circumnavigating Congress to make changes.
While most leaders would attempt to use Congress to make changes, the President has preferred to use his power to make the changes himself. The problem? Simply freeing those in prison won’t change anything. The argument for criminal justice reform is one that both sides can mostly agree on, at least from the perspective of voters.
Someone found with a little bit of marijuana on them should not be spending life in prison, I think we can all agree on that, but that is something that should be changed by Congress and carried out by the courts, not by a President with a history of overreaching.