President Obama Plans to Release Hundreds, Perhaps Thousands of Inmates Jailed for Drug Offenses Early
White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler spoke about the presidential plans to grant wide-spread clemency at New York University’s law school last Tuesday, indicating that the Obama administration is officially recognizing the harms associated with the war on drugs, and more specifically, the war on low-level drug offenders.
“The president believes that one important purpose can be to help correct the effects of outdated and overly harsh sentences that Congress and the American people have since recognized are no longer in the best interests of justice,” said Ruemmler. “This effort also reflects the reality that our overburdened federal prison population includes many low-level, nonviolent offenders without significant criminal histories.”
President Obama has instructed the Justice Department to improve its clemency recommendation process, in order to facilitate the massive increase of clemency petitions he plans to sign before leaving office. Officials are preparing for the updated petition approval process, as well as upcoming personnel adjustments – including the expected resignation of current Pardon Attorney Ronald Rodgers, who has been accused of mishandling clemency requests in the past.
This major overhaul offers hope to thousands of inmates currently serving prison time for drug offenses, presenting them with the chance of early release that months ago would have seemed nothing more than a pipe dream. To date, President Obama has granted clemency to a total of just 10 people.