On Tuesday, President Obama kept on blazing through his last year in office by setting a few records for federal prison sentence commutation. First and foremost, he arrived at a total of 673 clemency grants, which glides right past the last 10 presidents’ totals combined. In addition, he arrived at a total of 325 inmates granted clemency within August — which is the largest month-based total of any president. And to break the numbers down further, Obama commuted 111 sentences on Tuesday alone. Most of the affected inmates landed in prison on low-level drug offenses, and thirty-nine of these prisoners were imprisoned for life.
One of these lifers was a non-violent drug offender named Tim Tyler, who was convicted in 1994 and received a life sentence at age 25. He was caught selling LSD (after two previous possession and selling offenses) to a police informant while following the Grateful Dead around the country. He’d never physically harmed anyone and had never been in prison, and he expected 10 to 20 years behind bars. Yet this third offense triggered a mandatory life sentence in federal prison. As of now, he’s spent 22 years behind bars.
Tyler’s family had created a petition to ask Obama for clemency, and Obama included him in the newest batch of prisoners who saw their sentences commuted. Tyler will see his prison term end in 2018, which is many years sooner than his previous sentence would have dictated.
Obama’s not done yet. In conjunction with the Department of Justice, he plans to evaluate the entire backlog of federal prison petitions before the conclusion of his final year of presidency.