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President Obama

Source: Alex Wong / Getty

President Barack Obama on Tuesday shortened the prison sentences of nearly two dozen drug convicts, including eight serving life in prison, in an act the White House said continues Obama’s push to make the justice system fairer by reducing harsh sentences that were handed down under outdated guidelines.

The effort could lead Obama to grant clemency more often as his second and final term in office winds down.

In December, Obama issued his first round of commutations under new guidelines that were put in place to cut costs by reducing the growing prison population and grant leniency to nonviolent drug offenders sentenced to yearslong terms of confinement away from society. A commutation leaves the conviction in place and ends the punishment.

Neil Eggleston, the White House counsel, said many of the 22 people whose federal sentences will be cut short by Obama’s action would already have served their time and paid the debt they owed society had they been sentenced under current laws and policies.

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