President Barack Obama pardoned 78 people and also granted commutations to 153 nonviolent drug offenders who were sentenced under harsh and outdated laws and would have received lighter sentences if convicted today.
In total, Obama has now pardoned 148 people and granted a historic 1,176 commutations for federal inmates, under the clemency initiative he and former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. launched two years ago. Obama plans to issue more commutations before he leaves office, administration officials said.
One of the men who received clemency is Corey Jacobs, 46, a Bronx native who was serving a life sentence for his first-ever felony conviction on a drug charge.
“I am elated at the news about my client, Corey Jacobs, receiving clemency from President Obama today,” said Jacobs’ lawyer, Brittany K. Byrd. “Corey has more than paid his debt to society by serving over 17 years of a life without parole sentence as a nonviolent drug offender. Life in prison without the possibility of parole screams that a person is beyond hope, beyond redemption. And, in Corey’s case, it is a punishment that absolutely did not fit the crime. The President’s mercy and belief in redemption literally saved Corey’s life.”
The judge in Jacobs’ case, Judge Henry Coke Morgan Jr. wrote a letter supporting a commutation of the sentence and said that he would not have imposed a life sentence for Jacob’s first felony conviction if it had not been mandated to do so by law.
“Sadly, Mr. Jacobs is no anomaly,” Holder wrote last summer in an op-ed piece. “There are thousands like him serving sentences in our federal and state systems that are disproportionate to their crimes. The financial cost of our current incarceration policy is straining government budgets; the human and community costs are incalculable.”
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