President Obama granted pardons to two people and commuted the sentences of 95 others on Friday, marking his most expansive use of the clemency power yet as his presidency enters its final year.
The 95 commutations largely targeted prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes, many of whom received lengthy sentences for cocaine trafficking and possession in the 1990s. Commutations, unlike pardons, do not remove penalties like the loss of voting rights or jury service. But they still have a dramatic impact on the recipient's life. All of the 95 inmates who received commutations, including 37 of them serving life sentences, will be released either on April 16 or December 18 next year.
In addition to the commutations, Obama also granted pardons to Jon Dylan Girard, who was convicted of counterfeiting in Ohio in 2002, and Melody Eileen Homa, who was convicted of aiding and abetting bank fraud in Virginia in 1991.
Friday’s pardons and commutations are the third and largest burst of presidential clemency this year. In March, Obama granted pardons and commutations for 22 people, most of whom had been imprisoned for drug-related crimes. In July, he commuted the sentences of another 46 prisoners convicted under similar circumstances. Overall, Obama has now granted 248 pardons during the first seven years of this presidency, mostly since his reelection.