While the nation is focused on Donald Trump's every move today, #Barack Obama is exercising his authority to do more than pardon a couple of Thanksgiving Turkeys. Some law abiding citizens are finding Obama emptying out prison cells around the nation rather concerning.
Obama empties out those cells!
If you look at the graph below you can see with just a glance that Obama has basically undermined the courts and judges who spent many hours sentencing criminals in more than 1,000 cases. He has plowed over the numbers of all the other presidents combined! He did this by reducing the sentences of non-violent drug offenders with another 79 people recently getting their walking papers. His latest batch brings his grand total to 1,023 #Commuted sentences.
Far more than any other president
Obama still has another two months in office, which gives him plenty of time to take this unprecedented number of commuted sentences to even greater heights. On the graph above you can see a dozen past presidents, along with Obama. The president closest in number to Obama's commutations is Johnson, who had a little over 200. Obama has left Johnson's numbers in the dust by commuting 800 more than the late president so far.
Springing the convicts in great number
According to Quartz News, these aren't pardons, which does something altogether different than commuting a sentence. If you are pardoned, you are forgiven for the crime. When your sentence is commuted, you get your time in prison reduced. From the looks of things, Obama is very generous with this presidential privilege.
Fixing what's broken?
His mission is to "reduce the effect of outdated and unduly harsh prison sentences." What this really entails is Obama taking away the prison time of more than 1,000 criminals who sat in court and had their cases heard. Then a judge handed down their sentences.
Undermining the system?
Over 1,000 of these prison cases equals out to hours upon hours of work done by the court and the court's employees from stenographers to judges. Now all this is wiped away by the signature of the president, which seems to undermine the system. Obama announced his #clemency initiative in 2014 and the flood gates opened with applications.
While Obama has put his signature on 1,000-plus commuted sentences to date, there's still over 6,000 applications that hold the pleas of 6,000 people wanting a shortened prison sentence. This will continue until Obama leaves office.
Donald Trump, who has led a "tough-on-crime" candidacy, has bashed Obama for his excessive use of clemency, according to Vox News. Jeff Sessions, Trump's nominee for attorney general, is also a "tough-on-crime" type of guy and he has also vocalized his concern that Obama continues to violate the "rule of law" by cutting short the sentences of over 1,000 criminals.
Advocates looking for fast and furious or bulk
Criminal justice advocates want to see these commuted sentences move along at a faster pace than they have in the past. While the advocates are grateful for the new round of 79 commuted sentences, they think it is moving at a snail's pace and Obama could step it up a bit.
Some are urging for Obama to commute these sentences in bulk. They would like to see the president commute the sentences of entire categories of criminals. This might be the only way he can clear his workload of applications as it gets down to the wire for his time in office.
Folks behind bars who are hoping to get Obama's signature on their reduced sentence request are probably sweating it out today. If Obama doesn't get to it before Trump takes over the White House, their chances of seeing a shorter prison term are next to nothing.