Massachusetts residents may have heard that President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 111 federal inmates on Aug. 30. The individuals had been convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.

According to White House Counsel Neil Eggleston, the commutations highlight Obama’s commitment to giving second chances to prisoners he believes received unnecessarily harsh sentences under “outdated” drug laws. The president has called for an end to excessive punishments for nonviolent drug crimes. Earlier in August, he granted clemency to 214 federal prisoners, bringing the monthly total to 325. That is the highest number of commutations ever granted by a president in a single month.

Eggleston said Obama reviewed the merits of each inmate who applied for clemency and chose those who were ready to make the most of a second chance. The release dates for individuals granted clemency varies, but most are scheduled for release on Dec. 28. In total, the president has granted 673 commutations, which is more than the last 10 presidents combined. Obama is expected to continue commuting the sentences of qualified individuals until the end of his term.

Massachusetts residents convicted of drug offenses can face harsh consequences, including lengthy prison terms and heavy fines. However, an individual may be able to fight the charges by retaining a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Legal counsel could protect a defendant’s rights during police questioning and examine the case for details that could be used to build a strong defense. In some cases, an attorney may advise negotiating with prosecutors for an agreement that reduces the charges and penalties in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser offense.

Source: PBS, “111 will be freed under Obama’s latest commutation of nonviolent drug offenders,” Kevin Freking, Aug. 30, 2016