Obama Commutes Sentences of Eight Inmates

Friday, December 20, 2013

Barack Obama, then a U.S. senator for Illinois, looks out of the window of Nelson Mandela's jail cell on August 20, 2006, on Robben Island, about six kilometres from the city, in Table Bay. (RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty)

Yesterday President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates for crack cocaine offenses. Each inmate has been imprisoned for at least 15 years, and six were sentenced to life in prison.

It was the first case of providing retroactive relief to inmates who most likely would be serving shorter terms under current drug laws—laws most recently championed by Attorney General Eric Holder, who has fought to curb mandatory minimum sentences for certain low-level, non-violent drug offenders.

But aside from the eight lucky ones, 500,000 people remain behind bars across the U.S. for drug violations. The U.S. currently holds 25 percent of the world's inmates.

Joining The Takeaway to explain Obama's decision is Mark Osler, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, where he runs a law school clinic for commutations.


Mark Osler


T.J. Raphael

Comments [3]

STEVE from portland, or

As I understand it, the reason the Russian billionaire was mentioned as being included among the released, but not until AFTER the main press conference "almost as an afterthought," might have been because the billionaire was going to be released very soon anyway, as his 10 years of imprisonment were about finished.

Dec. 20 2013 12:40 PM
Mark Osler

It's a very important topic. One correction-- I don't run the nation's only commutations clinic, though it was the first to do federal commutations. Recently, NYU and Catholic University have started doing the same kind of work,and it is great to have them on board!

Dec. 20 2013 10:21 AM
Sam Winston from Detroit, Michigan

pardoning these citizens is a really nice statement. but now we need actual reform. It seems as though most of us are fairly aware of the travesty that is our prison industrial complex.

here in oakland county, our sheriff Mike Bouchard, goes after weed like nancy reagan. Michigan can always be used as a micro example for our country since we're purple. not red/blue. (rants about michigan)

L. Brooks Patterson, etc, the conservatives on the west and in the UP. it's corrupt. we have a road called "The Billion Dollar Mile", 35minute outside of detroit. Billionaires. outside of a bankrupt city.

look at all these bitches who snuck the recent abortion policy thru that requires all women and girls in our state to obtain a rider in case they're raped. it's essentially a tax on women's health. it took a policy that was already in their healthcare and made it separate. the dems are using the rhetoric that it's "rape insurance", and as hyperbolic as that sounds, it's pretty much dead on.

316,000people roughly signed the petition. our state has a population of just under 10million people. the bill was already vetoed by snyder than resurrected by the christian right and passed into law around our governor. it's been done 4 or 5time in the past but generally only for the passage of extremely conservative ideas surrounding abortion.

mail these people with your outrage:
abortion bill voters:
Terry Brown D Pigeon
Charles Brunner D Bay City
Jon Bumstead R Newaygo
Mike Callton R Nashville
Kevin Cotter R Mount Pleasant
Hugh Crawford R Novi
Kevin Daley R Lum
Cindy Denby R Handy Twp
Jeff Farrington R Utica
Anthony Forlini R Harrison Twp
Frank Foster R Petoskey
Ray Franz R Onekama
Bob Genetski R Saugatuck (no wonder saugatuck brewery blows)
Ben Glardon R Owosso
Ken Goike R Ray Twp
Joseph Graves R Argentine Twp
Gail Haines R Lake Angelus
Joe Haveman R Holland
Kurt Heise R Plymouth
Tom Hooker R Byron Center
Martin Howrylak R Troy
Bradford Jacobsen R Oxford
Nancy Jenkins R Clayton
Joel Johnson R Clare
Tim Kelly R Saginaw Twp
Klint Kesto R Commerce Twp
Eileen Kowall R White Lake
Ken Kurtz R Coldwater
Andrea LaFontaine R Columbus Twp
Dan Lauwers R Brockway Twp
Tom Leonard R DeWitt
Matt Lori R Constantine
Pete Lund R Shelby Township
Lisa Posthumus Lyons R Alto
Peter MacGregor R Cannon Township
Greg MacMaster R Kewadin
Ed McBroom R Vulcan
Mike McCready R Bloomfield Hills
Tom McMillin R Rochester Hills
Paul Muxlow R Brown City
Aric Nesbitt R Lawton
Margaret O'Brien R Portage
John Olumba I Detroit
Rick Outman R Six Lakes
Dave Pagel R Oronko Township
Peter Pettalia R Presque Isle
Earl Poleski R Jackson
Phil Potvin R Cadillac
Amanda Price R Park Township
Al Pscholka R Stevensville
Bruce Rendon R Lake City
Bill Rogers R Brighton
Wayne Schmidt R Traverse City
Mike Shirkey R Clarklake
Pat Somerville R New Bostidland
Jim Stamas R Midland
Rob VerHeulen R Walker
Roger Victory R Hudsonville
John Walsh R Livonia
Ken Yonker R Caledonia
Dale Zorn R Ida

Dec. 20 2013 09:50 AM

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