WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama has commuted the prison terms of 58 people, nearly a third of whom were serving life sentences, the White House said on Thursday.
Most of the convicts who will be freed early were non-violent drug offenders.
Obama said in a blog post that "it just doesn’t make sense to require a non-violent drug offender to serve 20 years, or in some cases, life, in prison."
He has pushed to reform the U.S. criminal justice system to reduce the number of people serving long sentences for such crimes and it one of the few issues where the Democratic president has received support from Republican lawmakers.
The Obama administration announced the most ambitious clemency program in 40 years in April, 2014. The program has struggled under a deluge of unprocessed cases.
Still, the number of commutations Obama has given is more than double the previous six presidents combined, the White House said.
Obama has now commuted the sentences of a total of 306 people, including 110 who had been serving life terms.
Among those named on Thursday, were Jasmine Allen of Florida, who had been convicted of conspiracy to distribute a small amount of cocaine base, Wade Cutchen of Virginia, serving a sentence for possession and intent to distribute heroin and cocaine, and Tomma Jean Kent, of Iowa, who had been convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Peter Cooney and Alistair Bell)