President Obama on Wednesday commuted the sentences of another 214 convicted drug felons, mostly dealers, bringing his total to 562 inmates who he has freed under his executive power to end punishments.
And the White House says there are many more reprieves to come.
“Today’s 214 grants of commutation also represent the most grants in a single day since at least 1900,” wrote White House lawyer Neil Eggleston on the White House website. “That being said, our work is far from finished. I expect the president will continue to grant clemency in a historic and inspiring fashion.”
Eggleston boasted that Obama already – with nearly six months left in office – has commuted the sentences of more convicts than all the presidents combined dating back to John F. Kennedy, who released about 100.
The White House tweeted the announcement and the following chart Wednesday afternoon, stating: “BREAKING: @POTUS just commuted the sentences of 214 additional people, surpassing the past 9 presidents combined.”
It’s not the only way Obama has worked to free convicts, with his Justice Department changing drug sentencing guidelines retroactively in 2014, freeing about 6,100 federal inmates.
Many critics of the president believe he will become more extreme as the end of his term approaches and he tries to build a legacy that draws attention away from the massive failures of Obamacare, the loss of American influence around the world and his extreme leftward lurch on social issues, such as same-sex marriage, transgenders in the military and the subsequent attacks on the civil rights of Christians.
Eggleston said 67 of the sentences commuted Wednesday were life sentences for drug crimes.
The cases mostly were related to drug dealing, not people caught smoking weed in their basements.
The cases included Asher Adkins of Columbia City, Indiana, who was convicted of carrying a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime, Joe Alvarado of Ogden, Utah, who was convicted of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, and Reinaldo Arocho of Lake Station, Indiana, who was convicted of carrying a firearm during drug trafficking.
Yet another, Jose Carlos Arras Jr. of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was convicted of conspiracy to import nearly 250 pounds of marijuana. And Sidney J. Ball of Lenox, Georgia, was charged with planning to distribute more than 25 pounds of cocaine.
In another case involved a drug deal with a firearm “not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record,” Ralph Casas of North Miami Beach, Florida, was charged with conspiracy to obtain and distribute more than 10 tons of cocaine.
Eggleston wrote: “In each of these cases, the president examines the application on its individual merits. As a result, the relief afforded is tailored specifically to each applicant’s case. While some commutation recipients will begin to process out of federal custody immediately, others will serve more time.”
He noted they will be offered “additional drug treatment,” rehabilitation, educational and self-improvement programs.
Noting that the cases were “almost all for nonviolent drug crimes,” the White House emphasized that they were serving sentences that would be different had they been imposed now.
“All of the individuals receiving commutation today, incarcerated under outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws, embody the president’s belief that ‘America is a nation of second chances,'” Eggleston wrote.
The stories, however, aren’t always about “low-level” operatives.
The Daily Caller documented earlier this summer the case of Alton Mills.
His sentence was commuted by Obama last winter after he served 22 years for cocaine offenses.
“Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin supported Mills request for clemency and has used Mills as an example of someone mistreated by the criminal justice system,” the report said.
But Mills’ own letter about his story is “littered with inconsistencies.”
The Daily Caller noted Mills claimed: “For two years, I worked as a drug runner and delivered crack cocaine and money for the drug ring’s leader. I tried to make ends meet by working as a drug courier, earning only $300.00 a week.”
But the Daily Caller reported Mills, according to court documents, “was an integral part of an operation that on a ‘good day’ could generate up to $24,836.78, adjusted for inflation.”
Obama’s grants are gaining speed as his terms winds down. In March he announced 61 grants, in May, another 58.
Obama in the middle of 2015 announced his intention to make more use of clemency options, immediately releasing 46, then later in the year releasing 95.
Many more such announcements are expected, since Obama originally committed to 10,000 commutations.