Obama shortens prison sentences for 102 convicts: White House

October 6, 2016 4:26 PM EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to deliver a statement on the Paris Agreement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama shortened the prison sentences for 102 convicts serving time for drug-related offenses in his latest round of commutations, the White House said on Thursday.

Obama has now granted a total of 774 commutations during his presidency, which ends on Jan. 20, as part of his push to reform the criminal justice system to reduce the number of people serving long sentences for non-violent drug offenses.

Obama had hoped to work with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. Congress on legislation to reduce mandatory minimum sentences, but those efforts have stalled ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.

"Only the passage of legislation can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure our federal sentencing system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety," White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said in a statement.

Eggleston said Obama has commuted more sentences than the previous 11 presidents combined - and more this year than in any other single year in U.S. history.

Civil rights advocacy groups had hoped that his administration would be able to process thousands of clemency applications, but Obama's programs has experienced long backlogs.

"While he will continue to review cases on an individualized basis throughout the remainder of his term, these statistics make clear that the president and his administration have succeeded in efforts to reinvigorate the clemency process," Eggleston said.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Bill Rigby and Stee Orlofsky)

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