Biden commutes the sentences of 31 nonviolent drug offenders

Washington — President Biden is commuting the sentences of 31 defendants convicted of nonviolent drug offenses who have successfully served terms of home confinement, announcing the reprieve as part of a broader effort to help those who have completed federal sentences reenter society.

The White House released the names of those whose sentences have been commuted Friday afternoon. A commutation means a person’s remaining sentence is reduced or excused, although their conviction remains in place. A commutation is not a pardon, which eliminates the conviction altogether. 

“These individuals, who have been successfully serving sentences on home confinement, have demonstrated a commitment to rehabilitation, including by securing employment and advancing their education. Many would have received a lower sentence if they were charged with the same offense today, due to changes in the law, including the bipartisan First Step Act,” the White House said, referring to the 2018 law that reformed aspects of the federal criminal justice system.

The announcement coincided with the White House’s release of its Alternatives, Rehabilitation, and Reentry Strategic Plan, which details steps the administration is taking to help formerly incarcerated people access health care, housing, education, employment and more. 

Most elements of the plan include the implementation of federal legislation, like a 2020 law that could allow nearly 800,000 people to become eligible for a Pell Grant through prison education programs. The plan also includes the Department of Housing and Urban Development providing $486 million in grants and 3,300 rental assistance vouchers to assist with housing issues. It also implements a special Medicare enrollment period for people who have served time in prison. 

Mr. Biden had previously issued about 80 commutations so far in his presidency, according to Justice Department records. He has also pardoned nine individuals, and issued a blanket pardon for some 6,000 federal defendants convicted of simple marijuana possession last year.

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