Barack Obama has already commuted more prison sentences than any other U.S. President. However, he’s not finished doing so with only a few days left in his term. President Obama has commuted the prison sentences of Chelsea Manning and Oscar López Rivera, among more than 200 others.
Chelsea Manning has served seven years in military prison after famously divulging 750,000 pages and videos of secret military files to Wikileaks, which also put the organization in the spotlight.
Originally sentenced to serve 35 years at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, Manning will be released this May 17, according to CNN. The decision comes as a massive relief to Manning’s supporters given the trauma that’s surrounded her life in recent years. As a transgender woman, the military was nowhere close to equipped to give her the treatments she would’ve needed.
President Obama also arranged it so that Oscar López Rivera would be released on May 17 after spending most of his life in prison. To date, López Rivera has spent 35 years in prison after being convicted of “seditious conspiracy” in connection to his involvement with a group of Puerto Rican freedom fighters who led several bombings in the 1970s and early 1980’s.
According to The Guardian, López Rivera had an opportunity to have his sentence reduced in 1999 during President Bill Clinton’s last days in office. However, he didn’t trust the U.S. government to keep up their side of the deal and didn’t want to leave any of his fellow activists behind – those of which have since been released.
“I am overjoyed and overwhelmed with emotion,” said US congressman Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois. “Oscar is a friend, a mentor, and family to me … The long fight against colonialism in the Caribbean has had many chapters and we have all put violence behind us. Releasing Oscar Lopez Rivera back to his homeland and his people is a step towards peace and reconciliation and is being celebrated by Puerto Ricans of all political stripes, classes, colors and geographies.”
To date, President Obama has commuted the sentences of 1,385 inmates, which far exceeds any previous U.S. President. Obama has done so in an effort to fix the broken criminal justice system in the United States.
With a couple of days left in Obama’s final term, even more commutations are expected to come before it’s all said and done – “most likely on Thursday,” according to a White House official. Perhaps names like Leonard Peltier, Assata Shakur or Mumia Abu-Jamal will be called next.