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Underscoring his calls for criminal justice reform, President Barack Obama on Friday commuted the prison sentences of 42 people who were locked up as non-violent drug offenders, reports AFP.
The harsh prison terms were doled out under “outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws,” the White House said in a statement. Most were “small-time drug dealers who received long sentences under a code shaped by the government’s war on drugs,” the report says:
Some were serving life sentences. Held in various prisons across the country, they will be released between October 1, 2016 and June 3, 2018.
Obama has now commuted sentences for 348 people, more than the total amount issued by the previous seven presidents combined.
Obama has called for legislation to reduce sentences and provide alternative punishments for small-time offenders.
“There remain thousands of men and women in federal prison serving sentences longer than necessary, often due to overly harsh mandatory minimum sentences,” the White House said.
An estimated 2.2 million people are locked away behind bars in the United States, including “the mentally ill and drug addicts,” who are often people of color.
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