Crime & Justice

Obama shortens sentences of 111 federal inmates, 4 from California

President Obama greets inmates during a visit to the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla., on July 16, 2015.
President Obama greets inmates during a visit to the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla., on July 16, 2015.
White House photo / Pete Souza

President Barack Obama has cut short the sentences of 111 federal inmates, including four Californians, in another round of commutations for those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.

Obama has long called for phasing out strict sentences for drug offenses, arguing they lead to excessive punishment and incarceration rates unseen in other developed countries.

White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said the commutations underscore the president's commitment to using his clemency authority to give deserving individuals a second chance.

He said that Obama has granted a total of 673 commutations, more than the previous 10 presidents combined. More than one-third of the recipients were serving life sentences.

Eggleston said he expects Obama to continue granting commutations through the end of his administration, but only legislation can ensure the federal sentencing system operates more fairly.

"We must remember that these are individuals — sons, daughters, parents, and in many cases, grandparents — who have taken steps toward rehabilitation and who have earned their second chance," Eggleston said in a statement posted on the White House website.  "They are individuals who received unduly harsh sentences under outdated laws for committing largely nonviolent drug crimes, for example, the 35 individuals whose life sentences were commuted today."

The Californians whose received commuted sentences are:

Barry Renfold Cooley, Los Angeles

Orfil Javier Garza, Pacoima

Darryl Lamar Reed, San Leandro

Richard Van Winrow, Los Angeles

For the complete list of individuals whose sentences were commuted, see the press release on the White House website.