WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has commuted the sentences of 31 people convicted of nonviolent drug-related crimes who were serving time under house arrest, the White House announced Friday.
Many would have received a lighter sentence had they been charged today with the same offense due to changes in the laws. A commuted sentence means they will spend less time in house arrest.
The switches came as the White House announced a package of policy actions across 20 different agencies aimed at improving the criminal justice system, which disproportionately affects black and non-white communities. The president announced his reelection campaign this week, and must keep black voters in his coalition if he wants to win in 2024.
The plan aims to expand access to health care, affordable housing and education, and facilitate access to jobs, higher education and the vote for those who have been mixed up in the system. The effort includes a plan to make more grants available to people who need education funding and small business loans.
Approximately 600,000 US residents are released from prison each year, and another 9 million enter and leave prison. As many as one in three Americans has a criminal record. This stigma can make it difficult to get a job, go back to school or start a business.
“Far too many of them face significant obstacles to getting a job or housing, getting health care or finding the capital to start a business,” said outgoing domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, the first person to hold both national security and domestic politics. adviser positions at the White House. She is leaving her position after two years and her last day is May 26.
“By investing in crime prevention and a fairer criminal justice system, we can tackle the root causes of crime, improve individual and community outcomes, and ease the burden on policing,” she said.
The Democratic president has commuted the sentences of 75 other people so far. He also pardoned thousands of people convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law, and others who have long since served their sentences.
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