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Among his last acts as president, Obama has commuted the sentences of 17 more federal prisoners from Florida and pardoned another four Floridians. In total, he has commuted the sentences of more than 200 people in Florida, the highest number of commutations of any state in the nation by a long shot.
Though some have denounced some of the choices for pardon and commutation, the highlight of the story is that a number of these people were sentenced to harsh sentences for drug-related, nonviolent crimes long before Obama became president. As part of a criminal justice campaign that was a main focus of his presidency, Obama’s last wave of commutations and pardons comes after eight years of working to make legislative changes that decriminalize addiction and promote healing treatment as the appropriate community response to the problem.
Well known for being the entrance point for a good portion of the illegal drugs in this country and also the destination of choice for people seeking illicit substances – or seeking easier access to legal substances – Florida has a long history with drugs and addiction. Because federal law enforcement agencies have placed a heavy focus on identifying drug entry points, stopping drug traffickers and gangs, and busting illegal pill mills in Florida over the past few decades, a number of Floridians were sentenced harshly for their crimes. Many are serving life sentences or long-term sentences that made them ineligible for parole until they were in their senior years.
Among those Floridians that received commutations – or a shortened sentence – from Obama, three of them were serving life sentences. One of them will be released in May, another had his sentence reduced to 30 years, and another will be free this month conditional upon enrollment in an inpatient drug rehab program.
Said Neil Eggleston, Counsel to the President: “These 273 individuals [the total number of people across the country impacted by the last wave of Obama’s commutations and pardons] learned that our nation is a forgiving nation, 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.”
Forgiveness and hope are two key components in recovery. The moment you decide to enter treatment and every day after that you wake up sober and ready to face the day without relapse, you are embracing both concepts. Actively practicing forgiveness – both to yourself and others – and pursuing hope in recovery are key ways to stay on track. Here’s how you can celebrate the hard work and commitment you have to your own personal recovery: