President Obama has commuted more sentences than any other president in U.S. History.  He recently commuted the sentence of some high profile prisoners.  Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar López Rivera and  retired U.S. Marine Corps General James Cartwright  had their sentences commuted as part of more than 200 commutations issued on January 17th.

Chelsea Manning is now set to be freed on May 17, after Obama shortened her sentence from 35 years to seven. Manning is already the longest-held whistleblower in U.S. history. Manning leaked more than 700,000 classified files and videos to WikiLeaks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. foreign policy. While serving her sentence she has seen long stretches of solitary confinement and has been denied medical treatment related to her gender identity. She attempted to commit suicide twice last year.

Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar López Rivera has been imprisoned for almost 35 years with a lot of that time served in solitary confinement. In 1981, López Rivera was convicted on federal charges including seditious conspiracy—conspiring to oppose U.S. authority over Puerto Rico by force. In 1999, President Bill Clinton commuted the sentences of 16 members of the FALN, but López Rivera refused to accept the deal because it did not include two fellow activists, who have since been released. Under Obama’s commutation order, López Rivera will be released on May 17th as well.

U.S. Marine Corps General James Cartwright also received a pardon. Last year, Cartwright, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general with 40 years of service behind him,  admitted that he lied to the FBI during an investigation into who leaked classified information to a New York Times reporter.  The top secret information leaked, was about Stuxnet, a secret U.S. cyberwarfare operation against Iran. He was due to be sentenced this month. Cartwright’s defense team had asked for a year of probation and 600 hours of community service, but prosecutors had asked the judge overseeing his case to send him to prison for two years.

President Obama granted another 330 commutations on the last day of his presidency, January 19th.  The majority of the sentences commuted Thursday were for nonviolent drug offenses. Throughout his presidency, Obama has granted 1,715 commutations—more than any other president in U.S. history.  Of those, 568 inmates had been sentenced to life in prison.

In Obama’s second-term, he had made great effort to try to remedy the consequences of decades of excessive sentencing requirements that he said had imprisoned thousands of non-violent drug offenders for too long. To be eligible for a commutation under Obama’s initiative, non-violent offenders had to have been well behaved while in prison and already served 10 years, although some exceptions to the 10-year rule were granted.

Obama personally reviewed the case of every inmate who received a commutation.  Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said the administration reviewed all applications that came in by an end-of-August deadline which was more than 16,000 in total.

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