The commutations are part of the president’s ongoing effort to release certain non-violent, low-level offenders who received harsh sentences under laws passed during the war on drugs. This latest round brings the total to 872 commutations for President Obama—well above the 715 total commutations by the previous 11 presidents combined.
“While there has been much attention paid to the number of commutations issued by the president, at the core, we must remember that there are personal stories behind these number,” White House counsel Neil Eggleston wrote.
He continued: “These are individuals—many of whom made mistakes at a young age—who have diligently worked to rehabilitate themselves while incarcerated.”
According to The Hill, many of the 42 inmates who originally had life sentences will be released at the end of 2018 and required to enroll in residential drug treatment programs.
Prison reform advocates praised Obama, but urged him to speed up the process during his final months in office. They also called on Congress to pass sentencing reform legislation.
“Until Congress reforms mandatory minimums, we are going to continue to see new counterproductive sentences like the ones President Obama had to fix today,” Families Against Mandatory Minimums Vice President Keven Ring said in a statement.
Ring noted that Oct. 27 marked the 30th anniversary of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. FAMM released a video on that day urging lawmakers to repeal the law.