Obama grants commutations to over 330 prisons as his last days approach.
In one of his final acts as president, Obama announced on Thursday that he would be commuting the sentences of 330 prisoners. Just before this announcement, Obama also granted clemency to 273 federal inmates including Chelsea Manning.
Despite granting clemency to hundreds of inmates, but Manning’s shortened sentence brought the most controversy.
Manning was the Army intelligence officer who leaked classified documents to WikiLeaks. The most groundbreaking of the material released on WikiLeaks was the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike which was released under the name “Collateral Murder”. The video depicts two American helicopters firing at civilians, including two reporters whose cameras they mistook as weapons. The number of deaths vary from 12 to 18, however it has been confirmed that two journalists were killed and two children were wounded. The crew on the helicopter can be heard laughing on the film during the attack.
Though Manning claims that she leaked the information in an effort to raise awareness about the effect that war has on civilians, she was still given a prison sentence that would end in 2045. Obama commutation means that Manning will be released on May 17, 2017.
It is true that hundreds of inmates have had their sentences shortened but commutation is not the same as pardoning. Commutations actually free people from prison while pardoning can only be done to an individual who has been released from prison and it is a formal act forgiveness and a restoration of rights such as voting.
"These 273 individuals learned that our nation is a forgiving nation," said White House counsel Neil Eggleston, "where hard work and a commitment to rehabilitation can lead to a second chance, and where wrongs from the past will not deprive an individual of the opportunity to move forward."