WASHINGTON - Three months before leaving office, President Barack Obama has shortened the prison sentences for 98 convicts serving time for drug-related offenses, the White House said Thursday.
So far this year, Obama has commuted the sentences of 688 people, including 42 serving life sentences.
Since taking office in January 2009, Obama has granted 872 commutations — more than the entire number of commutations granted by the previous 11 presidents combined.
Almost all those who have received commutations were convicted of nonviolent drug crimes. Some had been serving prison terms for firearm violations related to drug crimes.
Obama has advocated reforms of the criminal justice system to reduce the length of prison sentences for those who have committed nonviolent drug crimes.
“These are individuals — many of whom made mistakes at a young age — who have diligently worked to rehabilitate themselves while incarcerated,” White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said in a statement.
Obama granted fewer commutations earlier in his presidency, but in the latter stages of his second term he began granting clemency to large groups of individuals at a time, most recently a few weeks ago, when he commuted 102 sentences of mostly nonviolent drug offenders.
The White House said the president plans more commutations before leaving office January 20.