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Amid Justice Reforms, Biden Commutes 31 Drug Convictions

President Biden commuted the sentences of 31 people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes who were serving time in home confinement. Many would have gotten a lower sentence if they were charged today with the same offense because of changes in laws. A commuted sentence means they'll spend less time in home confinement, the Associated Press reports. The commutations came as the White House announced a set of policy actions across 20 different agencies meant to improve the criminal justice system, which disproportionately affects Black and other non-white communities. The president must keep Black voters in his coalition if he wants to win in 2024. The plan is an effort to expand health care access, affordable housing and education, and make it easier for those who have been mixed up in the justice system to get jobs, higher education and vote. The effort includes a plan to make more grants available for people who need funding for education, and small business loans.


Those whose sentences were commuted included men and women convicted of drug possession in Iowa, Indiana, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii and Texas. They will all finish serving time June 30. If any are in prison, they will finish out their terms in home confinement, and won't have to pay the rest of their fines, which range from $5,000 to $20,000. Roughly 600,000 U.S. residents leave prison each year, and another 9 million cycle in and out of jail. As many as one in three Americans has a criminal record. That stigma can make it hard to get a job, go back to school or start a business. "Far too many of them face steep barriers to getting a job or a home, obtaining health care, or finding the capital to start a business," said outgoing domestic policy adviser Susan Rice. She is leaving her post May 26 after two years. "By investing in crime prevention and a fairer criminal justice system, we can tackle the root causes of crime, improve individual and community outcomes, and ease the burden on police," she said.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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