|WASHINGTON – President Obama recently commuted the sentences of at least four people who were serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses. Prior to his announcement, Obama had only pardoned 39 people and commuted only one sentence, which is the fewest by any president in recent history.
Below is a statement from Vanita Gupta, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union:
"President Obama today (Dec. 19, 2013) gave several Americans who were unnecessarily sentenced to die behind bars the chance to reunite with their families. This is one important step toward undoing the damage that extreme sentencing has done to so many in our criminal justice system. We hope the President will continue to exercise his clemency powers and lend his support to systemic reform that will make our criminal justice system smarter, fairer, and more humane."
Clarence Aaron, Stephanie George, Jason Hernandez, and Reynolds Wintersmith Jr., who all received commutations were profiled in the ACLU’s recent report on people serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses.
The report is available here.
Editor's note:A release from the White House detailing the granting of clemency to 21 individuals including 8 commutations and 13 pardons may be found here.