Outgoing President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of 1,023 federal prison inmates to shorter sentences.
The figure is more than the past 11 presidents combined had done, the White House said on Tuesday.
The White House, in a statement, said Mr. Obama had commuted the sentences of more individuals in one year than in any other single year in U.S. history.
The implication is that Mr. Obama has commuted more sentences than the combined commutations by U.S. presidents from Harry Truman in 1945 to George W. Bush in 2008.
“Our nation faces a cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration that traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities.
“Since taking office, President Obama has fought for a smarter and more equitable criminal justice system.
“He has been committed to using all the tools at his disposal to remedy the unfairness at the heart of the system—including the presidential power to grant clemency.
“The president has now commuted the sentences of 1,023 men and women incarcerated under outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws, including 342 individuals who were serving life sentences.”
The statement said the majority of the prison inmates were offenders sentenced for non violent drug crimes.
“To date, the president has granted commutations to more prisoners than the past 11 presidents combined.
“He has also granted 70 pardons and is committed to continuing to exercise the clemency power with additional grants of commutations and pardons throughout the remainder of his presidency.
“At the same time, President Obama knows that clemency alone cannot fix decades of overly punitive sentencing policies or make our criminal justice system more fair and more just on the whole.
“That’s why his administration has worked to enhance fairness and efficiency at all phases of the criminal justice system,” the White House statement read.
Tuesday’s commutation involved 58 prisoners, including 17 who were serving life terms for drug offences.
The White House quoted Obama as saying: “The power to grant pardons and commutations… embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws.”