President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 214 federal inmates—most of whom are incarcerated for drug offenses—on Aug. 3 in a continued effort to change the way nonviolent drug offenders are penalized in the judicial system.
“All of the individuals receiving commutation today, incarcerated under outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws, embody the President’s belief that ‘America is a nation of second chances,'” White House Counsel Neil Eggleston wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.
The new addition of 214 commutations—including 67 people who were given life sentences—now brings Obama’s total of commutations to 562. This number surpasses the numbers of commutations by nine previous presidents combined.
“Our work is far from finished. I expect the President will continue to grant clemency in a historic and inspiring fashion,” wrote Eggleston.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas’s grandmother Minnie Pearl Thomas, 60, was one of the hundreds who have had their sentences commuted.
“Wanna Thank the @POTUS for everything he’s done for my family, and a lot more families giving them second chances,” the Broncos star tweeted. “Couldn’t be a better day!,” tweeted Thomas.
Wanna Thank the @POTUS for everything he’s done for my family, and a lot more families giving them second chances. Couldn’t be a better day!
— Demaryius Thomas (@DemaryiusT) August 3, 2016
Last year, Obama granted clemency to 46 prisoners—including Thomas’s mother, Katina Smith. Thomas’s mother and grandmother were operators of a crack cocaine ring out of their Georgia home. Both were given long sentences.
“These men and women were not hardened criminals, but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years,” Obama said last year when he pardoned 46 inmates. “I believe that at its heart, America is a nation of second chances. And I believe these folks deserve their second chance.”
Most of the 214 inmates given clemency on Aug. 3 are scheduled for release on Dec. 1.
President Obama’s effort to reform the criminal justice system has also included providing educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals.
On June 24 of this year, the Obama administration announced a new initiative titled, Second Chance Pell. The initiative will partner 67 colleges and universities with 12,000 inmates to give jailed individuals the chance to purse higher education with approximately $30 million in Pell Grants.