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Biden pardons 11 people, commutes sentences of five others, says White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday pardoned 11 people and commuted the sentences of five others who had been convicted of non-violent drug offenses, the White House said, the latest in a series of such actions.

“Many of these individuals received disproportionately longer sentences than they would have under current law, policy, and practice,” Biden said in a statement.

The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population but a fifth of its prisoners. Last year the White House unveiled a plan to reduce “unnecessary” incarcerations, support rehabilitation for imprisoned people and help those getting out of prison re-enter society more successfully.

The White House said one of those pardoned by Biden is Dr. Katrina Polk, 54, of Washington, who pleaded guilty to a non-violent drug offense at the age of 18. Polk served her sentence, completed the terms of her supervised release and went on to earn a PhD in public policy and administration.

Last December Biden reduced the prison terms of 11 people serving decades-long sentences for non-violent drug charges and pardoned potentially thousands of others with federal or Washington, D.C. marijuana possession offenses.

(Reporting by Paul Grant, editing by David Ljunggren)