Obama, in his two terms as the U.S. President, has reduced over 1,385 individuals’ sentences. Many of whom were serving for crimes related to narcotics. Ever since the war on drugs was initiated decades ago, many people, especially African-Americans and other minorities, have been greatly affected. It is not News that the judicial system has been tough on drug offenders, especially those who are minorities, and it was one of Obama’s goals to bring positive change.

Now, it is reported that the 44th president of the United States has reduced or eliminated the sentences of non-violent drug offenders.

Obama’s efforts

Obama had aspirations of eliminating unfair sentences that were seemingly unfit for particular crimes. CNN reported that a group of activists pushed hard in Congress for a bill to reform the Prison systems and change sentence minimums; however, despite their efforts, the anger and anxiety produced from the 2016 presidential campaign harmed the activist group’s progress.

Obama voiced his advice to Americans to plea for leniency via clemency. This led to thousands of clemency applications reaching 30,000 and requests for pardoning over the period of Obama’s two terms. The U.S. Constitution gives total power to the president when granting pardons and commutations, which cannot be overruled by the courts nor Congress. While former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton used this power, neither of them had used it quite as freely as Barack Obama. His use of this Constitutional power has been speculated to be part of his agenda regarding the prison systems and sentencing.

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Donald Trump

A Personal Resonance?

Obama claimed that his efforts for prison reform stems from a personal history. We wrote in the Harvard Law Review that, "This is an effort that has touched me personally, and not just because I could have been caught up in the system myself had I not gotten some breaks as a kid.

"By shifting the narrative to the way clemency can be used to correct injustices in the system -- and reminding people of the value of second chances -- I worked to reinvigorate the clemency power and to set a precedent that will make it easier for future presidents, governors and other public officials to use it for good” (CNN).

No matter where this agenda comes from, Obama has changed the lives of the many non-violent drug offenders he has helped by altering their sentences.

What about Trump?

After seeing the way Donald Trump attacked minorities from Mexico, claiming them to be drug-dealing murderers, along with the way he generalises African-Americans from inner cities, we can expect him not to follow Obama’s footsteps regarding clemency and prison reform. It’s an unfortunate position to be in with such uncertainty surrounding Trump, but it looks like we’ll have to wait and see.

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