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President Obama grants 153 commutations and 78 pardons for inmates imprisoned on drug crimes

President Obama greets inmates during a visit to El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla., July 16, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, President Obama granted clemency to 231 persons imprisoned mainly on drug crimes the White House claims “are ready to make use of a second chance.”

According to the White House, this is “the most individual acts of clemency granted in a single day by any president in this nation’s history. With today’s 153 commutations, the President has now commuted the sentences of 1,176 individuals, including 395 life sentences. The President also granted pardons to 78 individuals, bringing his total number of pardons to 148. Today’s acts of clemency — and the mercy the President has shown his 1,324 clemency recipients — exemplify his belief that America is a nation of second chances.

“Today’s grants signify the President’s continued commitment to exercising his clemency authority through the remainder of his time in office,” a White House blogger wrote. “In 2016 alone, the President has granted clemency to more than 1,000 deserving individuals. The President continues to review clemency applications on an individualized basis to determine whether a particular applicant has demonstrated a readiness to make use of his or her second chance, and I expect that the President will issue more grants of both commutations and pardons before he leaves office. The mercy that the President has shown his 1,324 clemency recipients is remarkable, but we must remember that clemency is a tool of last resort and that only Congress can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure over the long run that our criminal justice system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety.”

Two Iowans were among those who were shown mercy:

Anthony Timothy Dodd – Davenport, IA
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine; Southern District of Iowa
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (May 25, 2006)
Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to 240 months’ imprisonment.

Aaron Duane Rees – Pleasantville, IA
Offense: Conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine; use of a minor to manufacture methamphetamine; Southern District of Iowa
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (November 29, 2005)
Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to a term of 240 months’ imprisonment, conditioned upon enrollment in residential drug treatment.

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