Last Wednesday, the sentences of 61 people who were serving for drug offenses were commuted by President Obama. To commute a sentence means to grant early release for prisoners. About 1/3 of the sentences commuted were life sentences. The commuted sentences were for inmates who had committed nonviolent drug offenses such as participating in the drug trade or acting as an accessory to the crime by not reporting someone who may have been involved.
|Source: Department of Justice via whitehouse.gov|
President Obama wanted to give these inmates a second chance, believing they were also treated unjustly by our judicial system.
"Reminded me of how out of proportion and counterproductive so much of our sentencing when it comes to our drug laws are, both at the federal level and the state level," says Obama when having lunch with a few of the inmates who were granted clemency.
This is not the first time Obama has commuted sentences of inmates. Previous to the 61 he commuted last Wednesday, Obama had commuted 187 other individuals. Still, there are over 9000 pending petitions for clemency.
He continues, "The power to grant pardons and commutations… embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws."
Do you agree with Obama's argument that the concept of giving people a second chance is inherent in our democracy?
Do you feel like he is taking too large a role in pardoning sentences since he has pardoned more prison mates than the past 6 presidents combined?
Does offering clemency "fix" our judicial system or correctly right the wrongs of the past?