Obama commutes sentences of 214 federal inmates

President Barack Obama on Wednesday commuted the sentences of 214 federal inmates, marking the largest number of clemency requests granted by a president in a single day since at least 1900, according to White House officials.

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Government officials announced the commutations on social media Wednesday afternoon.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Obama said those granted clemency are "deserving of a second chance." Nearly all of them were convicted of nonviolent drug-related crimes, although some also faced firearms charges related to drug activities.

A majority of those receiving commutations will be released Dec. 1, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Among the 214 people who saw their requests for clemency granted, 67 of them were serving life sentences.

"All of the individuals receiving commutation today ... embody the president's belief that 'America is a nation of second chances,'" Neil Eggleston, White House counsel to the president, wrote in a blog post.

Eggleston said Obama examines each clemency application on its specific merits to identify the appropriate relief, including whether the prisoner would be helped by additional drug treatment, educational programming or counseling. He called on Congress to finally pass a criminal justice overhaul to bring about "lasting change to the federal system."

A list released by DOJ officials showed Richard Reser, of Sedgwick, Kansas, was among those to have his sentence commuted. He was sentenced in December 1989 to 40 years imprisonment for charges of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, two counts of possession of firearm while trafficking in drugs, possession of a firearm by a felon, distribution of methamphetamine and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

His sentence was the oldest, according to the DOJ, and will expire on Dec. 1.

"Altogether, I've commuted more sentences than the past nine presidents combined, and I am not done yet," Obama wrote on Facebook. "These acts of clemency are important steps for families ... but they alone won't fix our criminal justice system."

A few months ago, I received this letter from a Floridian named Sherman Chester. When Sherman was a young man, he wrote,...

Posted by President Obama on Wednesday, August 3, 2016

According to the White House, Obama has commuted the sentences of 562 people to date. Of those, 197 people were serving life sentences.

Wednesday's announcement was the latest in a series of clemency announcements from the White House since Obama launched an initiative in 2014 aimed at encouraging clemency for federal inmates who would today face "substantially lower sentence(s)" if they were convicted of the same crime or crimes today, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The inmates were required to have committed low-level, non-violent offenses and have no significant criminal history, among other qualifications.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.