Obama shortens prison sentences for 153 convicts, pardons 78 others

HONOLULU, Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama shortened the prison sentences for 153 convicts, mainly low-level drug offenders, and pardoned 78 others, the White House said on Monday.

Obama has commuted the sentences of 1,176 federal prisoners, the White House said, as part of a push to reduce the number of people serving long sentences for non-violent drug offenses.

Related: President Obama visits El Reno Federal Correctional Institution

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President Obama visits El Reno Federal Correctional Institution
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President Obama visits El Reno Federal Correctional Institution

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to reporters during his visit to the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Photographed through a prison cell window, U.S. President Barack Obama tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution after Obama in El Reno, Oklahoma July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

A prison cell is seen through the door window following a tour of the cell block by US President Barack Obama at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting US President to visit a federal prison, in a push to reform one of the most expensive and crowded prison systems in the world.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama tours a cell block at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting US President to visit a federal prison, in a push to reform one of the most expensive and crowded prison systems in the world.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma July 16, 2015. With Obama are Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels (R) and correctional officer Ronald Warwick. Obama is the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

A Secret Service member stands guard after U.S. President Barack Obama (not seen) entered the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution outside Oklahoma City July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama walks away after speaking with reporters during his visit to the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution outside Oklahoma City July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during his visit to the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution outside Oklahoma City July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

The entrance to El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015, as US President Barack Obama arrives for a visit. Obama is the first sitting US President to visit a federal prison, in a push to reform one of the most expensive and crowded prison systems in the world.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama is shown the inside of a cell as he visits the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution outside Oklahoma City July 16, 2015. With Obama are Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels (R) and correctional officer Ronald Warwick. Obama is the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

A prison cell is seen through the door window following a tour of the cell block by US President Barack Obama at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting US President to visit a federal prison, in a push to reform one of the most expensive and crowded prison systems in the world.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Secret Service and Prison guards stand on the roof as US President Barack Obama tours a cell block at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting US President to visit a federal prison, in a push to reform one of the most expensive and crowded prison systems in the world.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Aides to U.S. President Barack Obama (not seen) enter the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution after Obama in El Reno, Oklahoma July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

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In 2014, Obama announced he would use his clemency powers to reduce sentences he saw as overly harsh. That came after criminal justice bills aimed at non-violent drug offenders stalled in Congress.

The White House said Monday's commutations and pardons were the most acts of clemency in a single day by any U.S. president.

In addition to commuting sentences, Obama has pardoned 148 people in total. White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said they were people who led "productive and law-abiding" lives and contributed to their communities after being convicted.

Eggleston said in a blog post released by the White House that he expected Obama would issue more commutations and pardons before leaving office in January, but he said only Congress could make broader changes to the criminal justice system. (Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and; Dan Grebler)

(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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