On Monday, a White House official told Yahoo that President Obama is prepared to use his pardon power to grant clemency to “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of people who have been jailed for nonviolent drug crimes.
The new moves by the White House come after a January announcement that the Obama administration would taking the unprecedented step of encouraging defense lawyers to suggest inmates whom the president might let out of prison early, as part of its effort to curtail severe penalties in low-level drug cases.
“I hope governors with the same power at the state level follow his lead and reunite more families,” Anthony Papa, a spokesman for the Drug Policy Alliance said, “…with half a million people still behind bars on non-violent drug charges, clearly thousands are deserving of a second chance.”
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has passed bipartisan sentencing reform legislation, called the “Smarter Sentencing Act”, that would reduce the federal prison population, decrease racial disparities, save taxpayer money, and reunite nonviolent drug law offenders with their families sooner. The Smarter Sentencing Act is the biggest overhaul in federal drug sentencing in decades.