Opening wide the prison cells, Barack Obama Wednesday let 214 federal prisoners go free, including 56 with felony firearms convictions.
The mass commutation is the largest ever issued in a single day and Obama’s total number of commutations is more than the last nine presidents combined.
So far, 562 felons have been released – 200 of whom had life sentences, The Daily Caller is reporting.
He has insisted that he is focusing on non-violent drug offenders, but his commutation of criminals with gun crimes suggests he is seriously lowering the bar and showing his own duplicity. He has repeatedly called for more gun control and more laws. But what’s the point of more gun laws if you’re simply going to let violators get off scot-free?
Most of the felons on Wednesday’s massive list of commutations were convicted of using firearms while trafficking drugs. Others were charged with illegal possession of firearms because they were already convicted felons.
These commutations are part of Obama’s effort – he claims – to reduce unreasonably long mandatory minimum sentences. In a Facebook post, he said it’s about making America’s streets safe and to “save taxpayers like you money.”
Obama is granting “commutations” rather than traditional “pardons.” A pardon wipes the felon’s criminal “slate” clean, while a commutation merely lets the felon go free – their conviction is still on their criminal history.
That 562 is only the start too. With five months left in office, expect to see many more commutations from Obama.
“Our work is far from finished,” said White House counsel Neil Eggleston in a blog post. “I expect the president will continue to grant clemency in a historic and inspiring fashion.”
But he said laborious clemency process — in which each application is reviewed by at least three levels of lawyers at the Justice Department and the White House before going to the president — is no substitute for congressional action to overhaul sentencing guidelines.
“The individual nature of the clemency process underscores both its incredible power to change a person’s life, but also its inherent shortcoming as a tool for broader sentencing reform,” Eggleston said. “While we continue to work to act on as many clemency applications as possible, only legislation can bring about lasting change to the federal system.”