Forty-six Americans serving time for the non-violent crime of doing and/or selling drugs will get a shot at a normal life again—including 14 offenders who would otherwise have spent their entire lives behind bars.
The commutations were signed today by President Obama, a small gesture towards rectifying overly harsh drug laws that have for years disproportionately targeted minorities. Calling it a “second chance” for the affected 46, Obama explained, “These men and women were not violent criminals, but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years; 14 of them had been sentenced to life for nonviolent drug offenses, so their punishments didn’t fit the crime.”
So far, Obama has commuted sentences for 89 offenders.
Even so, only a small handful of nonviolent drug offenders were even deemed eligible for a chance at a second chance: the Times reports the White House considered only ”generally nonviolent inmates who have served more than 10 years in prison; have behaved well while incarcerated; and who would not have received as lengthy a sentence under today’s revised sentencing rules.”
So good news: if you’re a nonviolent drug user, it may only take 10 years behind bars before you get to live a normal life again. Still, better late than never. Better yet would be sentencing these people to rehab instead of say, jail, but who can put a timer on progress.