President Barack Obama launched an initiative in his second term to decrease prison terms, particularly for inmates serving time for nonviolent drug offenses.   In total, President Obama has “granted 673 commutations, the most of any president.”  On the downside, the President can only grant commutations to those serving time in federal prisons, limiting his powers of influence to about 194,000 prisoners.

President Obama has not only saught to decrease prison terms but also overhaul the entire justice system, reducing nonviolent prison sentences and eliminate recidivism (a person’s likelihood to continue criminal behavior after being arrested, sentenced, and released).

Although the President has been a leader in decreasing sentencing time, he has been extremely stingy when it comes to Presidential pardons.   While a commutation shorten’s a prisoners sentence, a pardon “completely expunges the initial offense from a convicts record.”  While President Bill Clinton and President George W Bush granted 400 and 189 pardons respectively, President Obama has pardoned just 70 individuals to date.

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