White House press secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama wanted everyone to have a "fair shot" under the clemency system, as the Justice Department overhauls their guidelines for reviewing petitions for reduced sentences from federal prisoners.
"The president wants to make sure that everyone has a fair shot under the clemency system and he has asked the Department of Justice to set up a process aimed at ensuring that anyone who has a good case for commutation has their application seen and evaluated thoroughly," Carney told reporters.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced earlier Monday that the DOJ would expand the criteria it considered in reviewing clemency petitions from some federal prisoners.
Holder said that he expected thousands of petitions, according to a report, but Carney said only that the final number of commutations would depend on the number of "worthy candidates."
"The number of commutations that are granted will depend entirely on the number of worthy candidates," he said. "And in terms of how many deserving candidates are out there, I couldn't begin to speculate."
The move is the latest from the Obama administration to review the nation's drug sentencing laws, which critics say are unduly harsh and have filled the nation's prisons with nonviolent offenders.
Carney, though, added that there were no plans to reconsider the classification of marijuana from its current schedule 1 category.