Last week, President Obama announced the commutation of sentences for 61 federal prisoners, bringing his total to 248 commuted sentences. That number is more than any president, but far below the numbers he proposed in his “Clemency Project 2014.” Once lauded as a historic effort to reduce the sentences of as many as 10,000 prisoners, it now appears almost impossible for Obama to meet this goal.
Recent date shows that more than 30,000 applications for commutation or pardon have been received, however they’re struck in the understaffed bureaucratic pipeline. With the review of a single clemency petition taking more than a year and Pres. Obama scheduled to leave office in nine months, things don’t look hopeful for a large majority of the applicants.
In January, the US pardon attorney responsible for overseeing the processing for granting clemency resigned, stating in a letter obtained by USA Today that she could not complete her job effectively because of lack of US justice department resources.
Norman Reimer, executive director of the National Associate of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and a partner in the project to process inmate applications, said: “The 61 grants today add to an increasingly impressive total, but we urge the President and his team to vastly increase the pace, and continue granting commutations on a regular basis throughout the remainder of his term.”