President Obama just released 46 drug offenders because 'the punishment didn't fit the crime.'

"Their punishments didn't fit the crime."

Photo by Marc Nozell/Flickr.


President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders today. Some had been in prison for over a decade. Many were serving life sentences. A White House blog post refers to the sentences the 46 individuals received as "unduly harsh."

In a Facebook post, the White House noted that almost all of the people released today were sentenced long ago when drug laws were more stringent, and would have already finished their prison time if they had been sentenced under today's laws. All 46 of them will now have a chance to move on with their lives, which is long-overdue good news for them and their families.

Each individual receiving a commutation got a personal letter from the president upon their release. According to the Washington Post, this was the most sentence commutations in a single day since the Johnson administration.

For the people whose sentences were commuted, this is a really big deal. And symbolically, it's huge, too.

Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation/Flickr.

Jackie Johnson was sentenced to 20 years in prison for "possession with intent to distribute cocaine."

Jerry Allen Bailey was sentenced to 30 years in jail for "conspiracy to violate narcotics laws."

Larry Belcher was sentenced to life in prison for possession with intent to distribute.

We're used to hearing numbers like this in the United States. But if you take a step back, prison terms this long — for people who aren't at all violent — are mind-boggling. That's longer than many assault sentences, and even longer than the recommended sentence for manslaughter in some states.

Manslaughter, for the record, is killing someone.

Releasing these 46 individuals is a sign that the president recognizes the injustice of that — and that's really important.

Real talk: It's just the tip of the iceberg.

Photo by Bob Jagendorf/Flickr.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, nearly half of all federal inmates — just shy of 100,000 people as of May 2015 — are doing time for drug offenses. It is by far the largest category.

Many drug crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences, which mean no matter what the context of the offense is, judges are required to impose a sentence of a minimum number of years. Not only has this led to an untold number of horror stories of people sentenced to decades in prison for seemingly minor drug crimes, it has also helped the United States build the largest prison population in the world.

Releasing 46 people who had more than paid their debt to society is a fine start, but we still have a long way to go before we have a justice system that is truly fair to nonviolent drug offenders.

But in the meantime, props to President Obama for doing the right thing by these 46 people and for getting an important conversation started.

No one can give those 46 individuals their time back. But there are reports that Obama is actively trying to get the Justice Department to speed up the clemency process for other nonviolent drug offenders. That's fantastic.

Hopefully he'll succeed. Because there are a whole heck of a lot of people in prison right now who deserve a second chance.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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