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President uses commutation power to free drug crime prisoners

We routinely strive to provide our readers in Florida and elsewhere with topical and relevant information regarding criminal law matters.

A case in point is the subject of today's post, especially when coupled with our immediately preceding entry (please see our April 20 post).

That earlier post addressed sentencing reform recommendations authored by the United States Sentencing Commission in the area of white collar crime. A central takeaway point from that entry concerned the contrast that some reform advocates believe exists -- and to a stark degree -- between efforts to introduce more logic and equity into sentencing outcomes in some criminal law areas, with other areas being largely ignored.

We noted in that April 20 piece, for example, the view that white collar sentencing reforms "lag those that are being noted in prison terms being imposed on defendants charged with other types of crimes, such as drug offenses."

Of course, many drug defendants across the country continue to be sentenced to long and harsh periods of incarceration. The winds of reform may indeed be blowing, but they are unavailing for many defendants charged with drug trafficking offenses and other drug-related crimes.

It is hard to deny the bipartisan and broad-based support that is emerging generally, though, for substantive reform measures targeting select drug offenders who are awaiting sentencing or who are already serving time following criminal convictions.

President Obama recently commuted the sentences of 22 inmates incarcerated in federal prisons for drug crimes. Although that number spells just a tiny fraction of the total number of inmates locked away on drug charges in American prisons, of course, it is arguably much more than a mere symbolic measure.

Indeed, the commutations follow strong endorsements for change from many reform proponents across the political spectrum.

Eight of the prisoners released had been serving life sentences.

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