Obama commutes 22 drug-related sentences

Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama on Tuesday reduced the sentences of 22 individuals serving for drug-related offenses, many involving distribution of cocaine.

The President has previously commuted 21 other sentences, all drug-related, as well. This brings his total to 43 commutations as president.
"The 22 commutations granted today underscore the President's commitment to using all the tools at his disposal to bring greater fairness and equity to our justice system," White House counsel Neil Eggleston said in a blog post.
Obama personally penned a letter to all 22 recipients.
    "I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around. Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. Perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances," Obama wrote.
    "But remember that you have the capacity to make good choices," he wrote. "I believe in your ability to prove the doubters wrong."
    For these 22 prisoners, these commutations are a second chance at life.
    One of the individuals, Donel Marcus Clark, has served more than two decades of a sentence for a nonviolent cocaine conspiracy.
    "Donel has worked meticulously on personal growth and development since the beginning of his incarceration over 20 years ago," Brittany K. Bird, Clark's attorney, said in a statement.
    "He is overwhelmed with joy at the news and looks forward to being reunited with his sons! We are extremely grateful to President Obama and hope that he continues to grant commutations to others like Donel who are serving draconian sentences for nonviolent drug crimes," she said.
    Clark's sentence has been commuted to expire on July 28, 2015.
    "We are thrilled that President Obama is making good on his promise to use the powers granted him by the Constitution to provide relief for federal prisoners serving excessively long mandatory minimum sentences," said Julie Stewart, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. ​
    "I commend the President," Stewart said. "But I'd also like to stress that the problem his actions are trying to address can't be solved by the White House or the Department of Justice. Congress created these mandatory minimums, and Congress needs to reform them."