Now that President Obama has accomplished his top of list goals, he is now focusing on another promise he made to America; criminal justice reform. On Thursday, President Obama will visit Oklahoma’s El Reno Federal Correctional Institute, making him the first sitting president in history to visit a federal prison.
In order to tackle America’s serious mass incarceration issues, President Obama will be meeting with a variety of people while in the prison. According to CBS News, the president will be talking to both law enforcement officials and inmates. The event will reportedly be followed up with an interview for Vice which will eventually lead to a documentary on Obama’s visit and his views on the federal prison system.
Recently, the White House released a video of President Barack Obama talking with The Wire creator about mass incarceration. During the talk, the president mention the time period in which mass incarceration started — under the watch of former president Bill Clinton. Obama stated that there was a “massive trend toward incarceration, even of nonviolent drug offenders.” The issue with mass incarceration, according to President Obama, is not so much that people spend unnecessary time in prison, but that it costs the federal government a lot of money and turns non-violent criminals into hardened criminals.
“Folks go in at great expense to the state, many times trained to become more hardened criminals while in prison, and come out and are basically unemployable.”
President Obama’s strategy to end the “war on crime,” started by Bill Clinton with criminal justice reform, has already been adopted by 2016 presidential hopefuls. The criminal justice reform agenda has been specifically mentioned by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Rhode island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. Recently, even Hilary Clinton mentioned criminal justice reform, apparently to make up for the 1994 Crime Bill passed by her husband. The bill was single-handedly responsible for many of the issues with today’s prison state, including the death penalty and longer sentences for non-violent crimes.
In recent years, the Obama administration has made moves which resulted in a change of Justice Department policy. The change, reportedly, directly improved issues with sentencing in the American justice system. Attorney General Eric Holder made a formal statement about how the new policy, when implemented, could help the federal government.
“Such legislation will ultimately save our country billions of dollars, and the president and I look forward to working with members of both parties to refine and advance these proposals.”
Based on public data, half of federal inmates are incarcerated for non-violent crimes. Congress is reportedly passing around a series of bills which are directly related to criminal justice reform and decreasing the number of incarcerated persons. President Obama expects his visit to the federal prison in Oklahoma will be the launch of nationwide federal government focus on prison reform.
[Image via NY Daily News]