A recent poll found that 75 percent of all Americans support abolishing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders. This represents a profound transformation in the American public’s attitude toward putting people in jail. It is worth noting that this dramatic change in public opinion is reflected in an equally dramatic change in public policy.

President Barack Obama has long believed that, in recent decades, too many Americans were given excessive jail sentences for nonviolent crimes. To address that concern, Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced the administration’s clemency initiative in January 2014.

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