(UPI) — President Barack Obama on Wednesday granted more requests for clemency for U.S. prisoners than any presidential administration has done in more than a century, the White House said.
Obama commuted the sentences of 214 prisoners — the most in a single day, the White House said, since at least 1900. The number also makes Obama the most clemency-friendly president since Calvin Coolidge.
The president has granted a total of 562 commutations in his presidency, a number that exceeds “the previous nine presidents combined,” White House Counsel Neil Eggleston wrote in a blog post.
Many of the individuals whose sentences were commuted were non-violent drug offenders. Some 67 of the individuals were serving life sentences.
Wednesday’s orders are part of a 2014 Justice Department initiative to free thousands of American prisoners who are serving long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, due to mandatory minimum guidelines in federal law. The measure seeks to shorten prison terms for offenders who would be given lighter sentences for the same crimes under today’s law.