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White House Announces Commutations For 46 Nonviolent Offenders

President Obama has commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders, nearly all of whom, the White House says, would have already served their time if they were convicted of the same same crime today.

"I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around," Obama said in a letter to each of the 46 men and women. "Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. Perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances.

"But remember that you have the capacity to make good choices."

In a note on the White House blog accompanying the announcement, Neil Eggleston, counsel to the president, noted:

"[F]ederal sentencing practices can, in too many instances, lead nonviolent drug offenders to spend decades, if not life, in prison. Now, don't get me wrong, many people are justly punished for causing harm and perpetuating violence in our communities. But, in some cases, the punishment required by law far exceeded the offense. "These unduly harsh sentences are one of the reasons the President is committed to using all the tools at his disposal to remedy unfairness in our criminal justice system."

Obama has now issued nearly 90 commutations, mostly to nonviolent drug offenders. You can watch his remarks on today's announcement here:

NPR's Carrie Johnson tells our Newscast unit the White House will focus this week on sentencing reform. It is expected to be a topic Tuesday when Obama addresses the NAACP's annual conference in Philadelphia, and on Thursday when he visits a federal prison in Oklahoma.

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