Obama Reduces Sentences of 95 Prisoners, Pardons Two As Part of Push for Criminal Justice Reform

Obama said it's time to rethink the criminal justice system.

We're almost at the end of 2015, and the holiday festivities seem to have put President Barack Obama in a forgiving mood. First he offered nearly $28 million in loan forgiveness to struggling graduates. Now, as part of his overall push to reform the U.S. criminal justice system and create more opportunities for former prisoners, Obama has pardoned two prisoners and reduced—or commuted—the sentences of 95.

Most of the 95 commutations (the most Obama has ever issued at one time) benefit nonviolent drug offenders, Mashable reports—many were imprisoned for cocaine or marijuana possession and "intent to distribute." (The White House has a complete list of commutations available.) Most of the prisoners' sentences will now expire in April 2016, and a dozen more will run out in about a year: on Dec. 18, 2016. 

Pardons, which completely forgive prisoners of their crimes, are more rare. In this case Obama pardoned an Ohio man sentenced on probation for "making counterfeit obligations" and a Virginia woman sentenced to house arrest for aiding and abetting bank fraud. In a statement yesterday afternoon, Obama said these efforts were part of the bipartisan push to "create a criminal justice system that is more fair, more even-handed, more proportionate, and is smarter about how we reduce crime." 

Latest in Pop Culture