President Barack Obama shortened the sentences of 102 federal inmates Thursday, in another round of commutations for those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.
The early release is part of Obama's effort to correct what he views as unreasonably long mandatory minimum sentences.
"With today's grants, the president has commuted 774 sentences, more than the previous 11 presidents combined," White House counsel Neil Eggleston said Thursday. "With a total of 590 commutations this year, President Obama has now commuted the sentences of more individuals in one year than in any other single year in our nation's history."
Obama's push to lessen the burden on nonviolent drug offenders reflects his stated view that the nation should remedy the consequences of decades of onerous sentencing rules, which have put tens of thousands of Americans behind bars for far too long, in his view.
Obama has urged lawmakers and government officials to end strict sentences for drug offenses by phasing them out gradually. He argues that such practices are excessive punishment, and lead to incarceration rates not seen in other developed countries. With presidential support, the Justice Department in recent years has directed prosecutors to rein in the use of harsh mandatory minimums.
Presidents tend to use their powers to commute sentences or issue pardons more frequently near the end of their terms of office. Administration officials say the rapid pace will continue until Obama leaves the White House in January 2017.