JULIANNE MALVEAUX

JULIANNE MALVEAUX

(NNPA)—The countdown to President Obama’s last one hundred days began on Oct. 13. Already, the president has committed to spending his waning days in office by campaigning for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for President. Indeed, he has put his legacy on the line, telling Black people at his last Congressional Black Caucus dinner that he will be personally insulted if folks don’t get out to vote for Hillary. Instead of staking his legacy on the results of the November elections, however, President Obama might be better advised to improve his legacy by taking bold actions in these last days of his presidency.

What might he do to positively affect the African Americans he far too frequently scolds?  For one thing, he might step up the pace of the pardons and sentence commutations for nonviolent drug offenders, who are disproportionately African American. In 2011, then-Attorney General Eric Holder said there were as many as 10,000 federal drug offenders that could be released. While President Obama has offered pardons and commutations, only a fraction of those whose sentences could be commuted have been.  For whatever reason, the Department of Justice has moved at a snail’s pace with commutations.  President Obama could direct Attorney General Loretta Lynch to bring more pardon applications to his desk. He would make a tremendous impact if the number of nonviolent drug offenders with sentences pardoned or commuted were closer to 10,000 than 1000.

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