Though he could have gone much further in offering pardons and commutations, President Obama has now officially commuted more sentences of felons serving time for low-level drug offenses than the last 11 presidents combined.

On Monday, President Obama pardoned 78 individuals and performed 153 commutations of sentence, continuing a trend for the two-term POTUS.

In the last year, President Obama has been quietly pardoning and commuting inmates from across the nation, offering freedom to those who committed non-violent, low level drug offenses. After the latest slew of commutations on Monday, Obama has now freed 1,176 inmates, and pardoned 148.

Though Obama has been somewhat generous in freeing the imprisoned, he falls woefully behind other presidents in the number of pardons he has granted. This is especially notable considering that progressives have pushed for Obama to pardon whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, which he has so far refused to do.

Ever the fan of torture and imprisonment, even George W. Bush pardoned more than Obama at 189. Far ahead is Bill Clinton at 396.

Most significantly, though, is Obama’s commitment to empty Guantanamo Bay. Though the POTUS failed to uphold one of his main campaign promises of closing the detention center, he has been able to reduce the number of inmates significantly, and is working to reduce the number by an additional 17 or 18 in the coming weeks.

This is vitally important as incoming President-elect Trump has pledged to increase the numbers in the prison and “load it up with some bad dudes.”


Sydney Robinson is a political writer for the Ring of Fire Network. She has also appeared in political news videos for Ring of Fire. Sydney has a degree in English Literature from the University of West Florida, and has an active interest in politics, social justice, and environmental issues. She would love to hear from you on Twitter @SydneyMkay or via email at