Obama commutes dozens more lengthy sentences

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Story highlights

  • President Barack Obama individually approves each reduced sentence
  • The White House says the commutations are a step toward fairness in the criminal justice system

Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama on Friday shortened the sentences of 72 federal inmates, the vast majority serving lengthy prison terms for non-violent drug crimes.

The latest bout of clemency brings the total number of commutations under Obama to 944. About a third of those have been for life sentences. Obama hopes to bring the existing sentences of inmates more in line with current laws, which have been relaxed after an era of strict mandatory minimums.
    "What President Obama has done for commutations is unprecedented in the modern era," White House Counsel Neil Eggleston wrote in a blog post. "The President is committed to reinvigorating the clemency authority, demonstrating that our nation is a nation of second chances, where mistakes from the past will not deprive deserving individuals of the opportunity to rejoin society and contribute to their families and communities."
    Obama individually approves each reduced sentence, taking into account the crime committed and the inmate's potential for success outside of prison.
    Among the inmates who received news Friday their sentences had been reduced: Albert Campbell, who was charged in 1995 with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
    Ricky Mitchell, of Georgia, has been serving a life sentence since 1997 for charges related to distributing cocaine.
    And Madison Pugh, Jr., who was sentenced in 1996 on drug charges in Ohio, learned Friday his sentence was reduced from life in prison to 30 years behind bars.
    The White House says the commutations are a step toward instilling fairness in the criminal justice system, but insist that fully reforming sentencing laws will require congressional action.