President Obama announces largest set of clemency grants in over a century

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is shortening the sentences of 214 federal inmates, including 67 doing life.

The White House says it’s the largest batch of commutations on a single day in more than a century. Almost all the prisoners were serving time for nonviolent drug offenses.

The commutations bring to 562 the total number of sentences Obama has shortened, more than the past nine presidents combined. Almost 200 were serving life sentences.

White House counsel Neil Eggleston says Obama will grant clemency to more inmates in his last months in office. He says those receiving commutations were imprisoned under antiquated, overly harsh sentencing laws.

One inmate, Dicky Joe Jackson of Texas, was sentenced to life in 1996 for methamphetamine violations and being a felon with an unlicensed gun. He told the ACLU in 2013 that he would have preferred a death sentence, adding, “I wish it were over, even if it meant I were dead.”

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