Florida residents may have heard that, on Aug. 30, President Barack Obama ended the sentences of 111 federal inmates who had been convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. In the past, the president had sought to phase out strict punishments for nonviolent drug offenses as they were seen as excessive compared to other countries.
The White House counsel said that the commutations showed that the president was committed to using his clemency authority to provide those who were deserving with a second chance. Additionally, these individuals received a harsh sentence out of laws that have since been outdated. The president reportedly considered the merits of each case before making a determination for the applicants. For example, one person who was granted relief was sentenced to life in prison when he was convicted of possession of LSD with intent to deliver. He will be released on Aug. 30, 2018, as long as he enrolls in a drug treatment program.
The president has to date granted more than 670 commutations. Of those individuals, approximately one-third of those were facing life sentences. All of these individuals had reportedly been working towards rehabilitation. It was expected that the president would continue to use his clemency authority until he leaves office.
Although the laws regarding certain drug crimes are changing, the consequences for certain charges can still be severe. In some cases, the punishments could include a jail sentence and heavy fines. If the defendant was not accused of a violent drug offense, a criminal law attorney may potentially be able to have the charges dismissed if the defendant agrees to complete a treatment program.