PHOENIX — For the first time since taking office, President Joe Biden has used his powers of clemency to pardon three people and commute to the sentences of 75.
Many of those that received clemency were already serving their sentences on home confinement during the pandemic and were previously convicted of non-violent crimes.
Still, the president said that more work is needed.
"America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation,” said Biden in a statement.
"Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values that enable safer and stronger communities,” he added.
The White House also announced a series of job training and reentry programs for those in prison or those recently released.
After today’s announcement, the administration hosted a roundtable to celebrate Second Chance Month.
One of the speakers was an Arizona veteran, Ray Perez.
"You know, I was blessed with the opportunity to have that second chance,” he said.
Perez served in the Army from 1998 to 2001 but struggled with substance abuse and PTSD.
One night, Perez was drinking and driving and crashed his car. He spent four months behind bars but received help through a treatment program for veterans.
“Going through those dark roads I've been down, going through all those struggles with addiction, incarceration, being on the streets, I didn't realize I'd be building my resume to do the work I do today,” he said.
Perez says he has been sober for nine years and told ABC15 he knows the importance of second chances.
"Get the tools that you need to make positive changes...and once you choose hope anything is possible,” he said.
Perez currently works as a peer support specialist at the VA. He also runs a nonprofit called Operation Restoring Veterans Hope.