In the United States a special committee of the U.S. Department of Justice released thousands of inmates who were detained for drug crimes in order to reduce the overcrowding of the federal jails. The decision was predictably criticized.
In Italy, amnesties used to be routinely granted: there were 30 from 1942 to 1990.
In 1992, under pressure from the public, the Parliament amended the Constitution and now an amnesty is nearly impossible to grant, since it must be approved by a two-thirds majority of both Chambers.
However, the problem of prison overcrowding is still there. However, it is due to the small number of operating prisons rather than to the harshness of the criminal law.