Obama shortens prison sentences for 102 convicts -White House

Obama has now granted a total of 774 commutations during his presidency.

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
In this Oct. 5, 2016, photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Obama offered 102 federal inmates the chance to leave prison early, wielding his clemency powers Oct. 6 as part of his end-of-term push to spur action on criminal justice reform. The latest round of commutations brings to 774 the number of sentences Obama has shortened, including 590 this year.

U.S. President Barack Obama shortened the prison sentences for 102 convicts serving time for drug-related offenses in his latest round of commutations, the White House said on Thursday.

Obama has now granted a total of 774 commutations during his presidency, which ends on Jan. 20, as part of his push to reform the criminal justice system to reduce the number of people serving long sentences for non-violent drug offenses.

Obama had hoped to work with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. Congress on legislation to reduce mandatory minimum sentences, but those efforts have stalled ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.

"Only the passage of legislation can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure our federal sentencing system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety," White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said in a statement.

Eggleston said Obama has commuted more sentences than the previous 11 presidents combined - and more this year than in any other single year in U.S. history.

Civil rights advocacy groups had hoped that his administration would be able to process thousands of clemency applications, but Obama's programs has experienced long backlogs.

"While he will continue to review cases on an individualized basis throughout the remainder of his term, these statistics make clear that the president and his administration have succeeded in efforts to reinvigorate the clemency process," Eggleston said.

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