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President Obama Speaks at Georgia Tech

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Following his plan to rectify the “war on drugs” that jailed thousands and destroyed communities, President Obama is expected to commute the sentences of dozens of non-violent drug offenders this summer, the New York Times reports.

The president, who has long discussed the effort to correct the tough and unfair sentencing that disproportionately affects minority men, will issue orders to free a number of federal prisoners; a move that will “commute more sentences at one time than any president has in nearly half a century,” the Times writes.

In a rare Washington D.C. twist, sentencing reform seems to be a bipartisan issue, garnering support from Democrats, Republicans, and those in between.

Via the Times:

In the next weeks, the total number of commutations for Mr. Obama’s presidency may surpass 80, but more than 30,000 federal inmates have come forward in response to his administration’s call for clemency applications. A cumbersome review process has advanced only a small fraction of them. And just a small fraction of those have reached the president’s desk for a signature.

[…]

Overhauling the criminal justice system has become a bipartisan venture. Like Mr. Obama, Republicans running for his job are calling for systemic changes. Lawmakers from both parties are collaborating on legislation. And the United States Sentencing Commission has revised guidelines for drug offenders, so far retroactively reducing sentences for more than 9,500 inmates, nearly three-quarters of them black or Hispanic.

The drive to recalibrate the system has brought together groups from across the political spectrum. The Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy organization with close ties to the White House and Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, has teamed up with Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the conservative brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, who finance Republican candidates, to press for reducing prison populations and overhauling sentencing.

According to PBS Newshour, inmates should have spent at least 10 years incarcerated and received what could be considered an unfair sentence based on current sentencing laws to be considered for commutations.

So far, President Obama has granted 33 commutations in the fiscal year 2015.

SOURCE: NYT, PBS | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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