WASHINGTON - President Obama on Friday commuted the sentences of 95 prisoners and pardoned two more, part of an ongoing effort within the White House to rethink a criminal-justice system that critics say has resulted in overly harsh and expensive punishment for thousands of drug offenders.
The commutations, the most Obama has issued at one time, mostly benefit nonviolent drug offenders - including many who were given life sentences for crack and cocaine crimes, and some who have already spent more than two decades behind bars.
The White House also pardoned an Ohio man sentenced to probation in a counterfeiting case and a Virginia woman sentenced to home detention and supervised release in a bank-fraud case.
Friday's announcement brings to 184 the number of inmates whose sentences have been commuted by the Obama administration, which in the last few years has been working to build bipartisan support for reducing a federal prison population that eats up a large percentage of the Justice Department budget. Nearly half the roughly 200,000 convicts in federal custody are there for drug offenses, statistics show.