FAMM Statement on Unprecedented Number of Commutations From President Obama

Post Date: December 18, 2015

Earlier today, President Obama commuted the sentences of 95 federal prisoners, bringing the total number of commutations granted by this administration to 184–more grants than the previous six presidents combined.

The following FAMM members were among those granted commutations today:

  • Sharanda Jones
  • Sherman Chester
  • Alton Mills
  • Sandra Avery
  • Charles Frederick Cundiff
  • William Dekle
  • Lalanda Price

The full list of commutation recipients is here

“American presidents have had the power to show mercy since the founding of our Republic. President Obama is the first president in decades to use it as the founders intended,” said Julie Stewart, FAMM president and founder. “For that reason, we commend him for showing more mercy than his predecessors. But his work is not done. Timothy Tyler, Weldon Angelos, Melissa Trigg, and far too many others are still serving excessively long sentences that should be commuted as well.”

While the number of commutations is heartening, particularly in light of how few Obama granted in his first term, recent media reports about the opaque bureaucratic process by which petitions are reviewed within the Justice Department suggest that the DOJ’s clemency initiative could stand to be far more efficient, consistent, and transparent.  

“We at FAMM, and our members who have loved ones serving excessively long federal sentences, want to see DOJ officials recommend many more people for commutations, as soon as possible,” Stewart said. “And we want to see that because this administration promised it.”

The large number of commutations should also serve as a reminder to Congress that the responsibility for correcting disproportionately long sentences for nonviolent drug offenders ultimately lies with legislators, not the president.

“The president can’t undo all of the damage caused by more than thirty years of counterproductive mandatory minimum sentencing laws. And on his own he can’t prevent future offenders from being exposed to disproportionate sentences that do nothing to improve public safety. Only Congress can correct our broken sentencing laws. We hope the president’s action today spurs Congress to move forward with meaningful sentencing reform.”