Today President Obama commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates convicted for non-violent drug offenses involving crack cocaine. He also granted pardons to 13 others. This brings the total amount of individuals granted relief to 52 pardons and nine commutations since Obama has been in office.
On December 4, I was invited to go on "Democracy Now" to speak about a blog piece I wrote on this topic. Amy Goodman, the host of the show, asked me what I thought about Obama's record of using his pardon power? At that time President Obama had the worst record of all presidents in using the power of executive clemency. Obama had given 39 pardons and one commutation.
You can watch my interview with Democracy Now where I say, "Some 2.3 million Americans are locked up, 500,000 because of the drug war. In the federal system, over 100,000. There's got to be somebody that's eligible for executive clemency, I mean, look, if you can give a turkey a second chance, why can't you give a non-violent drug offender a second chance?"
Holiday season is a traditional time for executives to use their power of clemency or pardons to show mercy to people who are imprisoned under unjust laws. These are people who have already served enormous amounts of time but are stuck in prison and have no legal remedies in which to use to regain their freedom.
I am happy that President Obama has stepped up to the plate and used his executive clemency powers to free eight individuals from prison. Hopefully other sitting governors will follow his lead and use their clemency powers to set free worthy prisoners.
This piece originally appeared on the DPA