Obama Commutes Over 100 Sentences For Non-Violent Offenders

By Seth Ferranti 09/01/16

Obama has commuted 325 sentences in the month of August alone. 

Obama Commutes Over 100 Sentences For Non-Violent Offenders

President Obama is on a roll with his second batch of commutations in the month of August—111 more drug war prisoners had their petitions for clemency granted, finally getting some much needed relief from their draconian sentences. With a running total of 673 commutations during his presidency, Obama is singlehandedly trying to right the wrongs of the War on Drugs—a tall order, given the climate of the country amid the heroin epidemic and the DEA pushing back against against marijuana law reform

“Today’s 111 commutation grants underscore the President’s commitment to using his clemency authority to provide a second chance to deserving individuals,” said White House Counsel Neil Eggleston in a statement. “To date, President Obama has granted 673 commutations: more commutations than the previous ten presidents combined. More than one-third of the President’s commutation recipients, or 232 individuals, were serving life sentences.”

One of the drug war prisoners that had his sentence commuted was Timothy Tyler, a non-violent LSD offender serving a life sentence. The Fix profiled his case last year, questioning why Tyler hadn’t received clemency despite being severely over-sentenced.

To his credit, President Obama has done more than any president in recent history to overhaul our prohibition-geared criminal justice system, but more needs to be done. With the stigma ex-cons face when they return to society and the booming drug economy in prisons, clearly the War on Drugs and the whole idea behind it—that we can incarcerate ourselves out of a drug problem—is ridiculous, and the White House surely agrees.

“While I expect that the President will continue to grant commutations through the end of this administration, the individualized nature of this relief highlights the need for bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, including reforms that address excessive mandatory minimum sentences,” Eggleston continued in the White House statement. “Only the passage of legislation can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure our federal sentencing system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety.”

Obama has made it a priority to get as many non-violent offenders out of their disproportionate sentences as he can. His administration realizes that there is more to federal sentencing than rigid mandatory minimums and sentencing guidelines. What might appear intelligent in theory, often has disastrous results when put into action. The War on Drugs is the perfect example. A war that our government declared on its own people—people who deserve a second chance.

“We must remember that these are individuals—sons, daughters, parents, and in many cases, grandparents—who have taken steps toward rehabilitation and who have earned their second chance," said Eggleston. "They are individuals who received unduly harsh sentences under outdated laws for committing largely nonviolent drug crimes, for example, the 35 individuals whose life sentences were commuted today. For each of these applicants, the President considers the individual merits of each application to determine that an applicant is ready to make use of his or her second chance.”

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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at sethferranti.com. You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.

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