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Obama calls for drug policy changes, reduces sentences for drug related crimes

US President Barack Obama speaks during the 2015 White House Conference on Aging in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, July 13, 2015. Held each decade since the 1960's, the Conference on Aging identifies and advances actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama speaks during the 2015 White House Conference on Aging in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, July 13, 2015.

President Obama has granted clemency to 46 inmates who faced prison time for drug offenses.

President Obama has granted clemency to 46 inmates who faced prison time for drug offenses.

In a video announcement Monday Obama said that  "Their punishments didn't fit the crime, and if they had been sentenced under today's laws, nearly all of them would have already served their time.” This announcement is significant as it is the most drug offenders  granted clemency  by a president in a single day since the 1960s.

However, this is not Obama’s first time granting such releases. Last year the President established a clemency initiative to encourage individuals sentenced under outdated laws and policies to petition for commutation. The President has since granted 89 commutations to individuals serving time in federal prison.

Obama argues that the U.S. is spending too much money imprisoning individuals who are serving long sentences for  minor non-violent drug crimes. Should these prisoners be released? What more could be done to improve drug policies in the U.S.?

Obama will be outlining the future of drug policy today at the NAACP  annual convention in Philadelphia. The President is expected to address sentencing reform, steps to reduce repeat offenders and ways to reform the juvenile justice system to make the criminal justice system more fair.  

Guests:

John Malcolm, Director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation

Sarah Wheaton, Reporter for Politico; Politico: President Obama commutes sentences of 46 prisoners

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