Obama busts 22 prisoners with drug sentences out of prison like wham blam thank you ma'am
Earlier this week, President Obama used his sexy executive authority to commute the sentences of 22 individuals incarcerated for drug-related offenses, a move that more than doubled the number of commutations the president has granted since moving into the White House seven years ago. Some men just can't be contained! Freedom!
The men and women granted the reduced sentences had been imprisoned under what the White House called an "outdated sentencing regime." Eight of the 22 inmates had been sentenced to life imprisonment for offenses ranging from meth distribution to heroin possession to pot cultivation, and would have died behind bars had Obama not swooped down like a shimmering eagle of deliverance and reduced their imprisonment.
According to a statement from White House counsel Neil Eggleston, “Had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years — in some cases more than a decade — longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime.” Mmm, we love it when you talk progressive to us.
But not just anyone with an egregious drug sentence was qualified to receive Obama's warm hug of liberation. Prisoners must have had a clean prison record (no toilet wine or murder) and have given no indication that they'd be a societal threat upon their release (no toilet wine or murder). Obama acknowledged this in a letter he sent to the 22 prisoners, explaining that they had been selected in particular because they had the potential to turn their lives around. So not only did he reduce their sentences, he practically reached into their chest cavities and touched their souls while he was at it. Crying about it.
“Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity,” Obama wrote. “It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. Perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances.” We'll tell you how. You move to Colorado where weed is legal and you just bask in the glory of that for the rest of your days.
Obama's act of clemency was all part of an recent White House effort to reduce federal mandatory minimum sentencing, because jail sucks and there are too many people in it.
In fact, the Obama Administration has made it a part of their mission to take a stand against mass incarceration in the United States. Last year, they unveiled a plan to chip away at mandatory sentencing minimums while making it easier for non-violent offenders to apply for clemency.
However, while the move certainly warmed the ventricles of our frozen reptile hearts, it's still only a small step forward in the fight against mass incarceration and overzealous sentencing problems we have in this here country. Many, many people remain imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses such as marijuana possession, like Antonio Bascaro and Jeff Mizanskey, who could end up dying in prison for marijuana-related offenses if the issue is not taken seriously in 2015. Many drug offenders are still serving longer sentences than perpetrators of violent and sexual crimes because of minimum sentencing and three-strike laws, ... but we're sure Obama would let them all out of their cages if he could.
Hopefully this recent round of commutations is indicative of a systematic change in how we handle drug crime, and it's not just a showy move by Obama to win sympathy at a time where his approval rating is more flaccid than Bill Clinton's D on date night.
But either way, it's pretty cool that the government has taken a sudden merciful shift in attitude towards drug use, especially since many drug users are often forced into use, distribution or cultivation for complicated reasons beyond their own desire to get fucked up. We're just glad there'll be 22 more people on the street we can smoke weed with now. Kumbaya.