President Barack Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentences of 209 more U.S. prisoners and pardoned 64 others outright.
The additional actions bring the president’s total to 1,385, which is more than the previous 12 U.S. presidents combined. More than 500 of the commutations affected life sentences.
“These 273 individuals learned that our nation is a forgiving nation, where hard work and a commitment to rehabilitation can lead to a second chance, and where wrongs from the past will not deprive an individual of the opportunity to move forward,” Obama adviser Neil Eggleston wrote on the White House website.
One of the inmates granted relief with Tuesday’s actions was Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence whistleblower who leaked classified information to WikiLeaks in 2010. Three years later, she pleaded guilty on 10 criminal counts, was convicted on 21 others and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
A transgender woman formerly known as Bradley Manning, she has pleaded with Obama for help and twice attempted suicide last year at the all-male U.S. Army prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Instead of her scheduled release in 2045, Manning will now be freed on May 17.
Speculation arose in recent days that Obama would include Manning on his list of commutations, but it wasn’t confirmed until the White House’s announcement Tuesday.
Another whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents in 2014 exposing the National Security Agency’s domestic phone surveillance program, has pushed for clemency for Manning on social media. However, it appears unlikely he will receive similar treatment anytime soon.
“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday. “Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”
“Clemency is an extraordinary remedy, granted only after the President has concluded that a particular individual has demonstrated a readiness to make use of his or her second chance,” Eggleston added.
With Tuesday’s, the number of Obama’s pardons has now reached 212.
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