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Politics

Obama’s push for commutations comes amid spike in crime

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As President Obama picks up the pace of commuting prison sentences for federal drug offenders, he’s releasing some of the same people that former President Bill Clinton threw the book at 20 years ago.

And while national crime rates are historically low, fresh questions are being raised about whether the new emphasis on releasing federal and state inmates — on a scale far beyond Mr. Obama’s commutations — is contributing to a spike in violent crime in major U.S. cities.

The president commuted sentences for 325 inmates in August alone, bringing to 673 the total for his presidency. More than a third of that total, 232, were serving life terms under the stiffer penalties approved during the drug wars of the 1980s and ‘90s, including the federal “three strikes” provision signed into law by Mr. Clinton in 1994.

“That’s definitely part of it,” said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit group that promotes reforms in sentencing policy. “That [1994 law] certainly called for a certain level of drug selling — three times, life without parole.” – READ MORE

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