President Obama commutes sentences of 46 convicts, including 2 Houston men

President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 13, 2015 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Barack Obama is cutting the prison sentences of 46 convicts as part of a broader effort to make the criminal justice fairer and ease the punishment of those serving more time than their crimes warranted.

The president has now issued nearly 90 commutations, most of them to non-violent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing rules. A commutation leaves the conviction in place, but ends the punishment. Several of those granted clemency Monday had been sentenced to life in prison.

Two of the 46 are from Houston. Joe Louis Champion was given a life sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Robert Earl Thomas, Jr. was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Both men's sentences are now set to expire in November of this year.

Obama this week is devoting considerable attention to the criminal justice system. He'll lay out ideas for how to improve the fairness of the system during a speech on Tuesday. And on Thursday he'll become the first siting president to visit a federal prison.
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