President Barack Obama has pardoned 78 people and shortened the sentence of 153 others convicted of federal crimes, the greatest number of individual clemencies in a single day by any president, the White House said Monday. Obama has been granting commutations at rapid-fire pace in his final months in office, reports the AP, but he has focused primarily on shortening sentences of those convicted of drug offenses rather than pardons. Pardons amount to forgiveness of a crime that removes restrictions on the right to vote, hold state or local office, or sit on a jury. The pardon also lessens the stigma arising from the conviction.
Neil Eggleston, Obama's White House counsel, said Obama has now pardoned a total of 148 people during his presidency and has shortened the sentences of 1,176 people, including 395 serving life sentences. Eggleston said each clemency recipient's story is unique, but a common thread of rehabilitation underlies all of them. Pardon recipients have shown they have led a productive and law-abiding post-conviction life, including by contributing to the community in a meaningful way, he said. Commutation recipients have made the most of his or her time in prison by participating in educational courses, vocational training, and drug treatment, he said. "These are the stories that demonstrate the successes that can be achieved—by both individuals and society—in a nation of second chances," Eggleston said.