White House Commutes 18 Life Sentences
Plus 40 more sentences
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 5, 2016 4:14 PM CDT
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at Flint Northwestern High School in Flint, Mich., Wednesday, May 4, 2016, about the ongoing water crisis.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – The Obama administration on Thursday commuted the prison sentences of 58 federal convicts, including 18 who were given life sentences, the AP reports. The action is part of a broader effort to overhaul the criminal justice system and ease punishments for nonviolent drug offenders. Most whose sentences were cut short are now due out on September 2, though some will be released over the next two years.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement that the prisoners have been "granted a second chance to lead productive and law-abiding lives." The Justice Department revamped the clemency process two years ago to encourage more applications from nonviolent federal offenders.