In one sweeping motion Monday, President Obama issued pardons to 78 inmates and granted clemency to an additional 153 serving time in prison.
A commutation is the shortening of a prison sentence; a pardon is absolution from a crime and freedom from incarceration.
Mr. Obama’s act of mercy is the largest in a single day in American history.
To date, Obama has granted full and free pardons to 148 people during his presidency. Additionally, the president has also issued commutations to 1,176 people, 395 of whom previously faced life sentences.
“These are the stories that demonstrate the successes that can be achieved by both individuals and society in a nation of second chances,” White House counsel Neil Eggleston said.
Under Mr. Obama’s executive clemency initiative, those who qualify must have endured at least 10 years in prison, a history of good behavior while behind bars and have committed no violent acts or serious crimes.
Eggleston also stated the president intends to issue more grants of clemency prior to his leaving office in January 2017, but cited a sizable backlog: Over 13,000 inmates have applied for clemency and a further 1,900 have applied for full pardons.
[AP] [Photo courtesy Reuters/Kevin Lamarque via Vice]