President Obama Makes History by Visiting Federal Prison

by Mary C. Piemonte

U.S. President Barack Obama at NAACP Convention in Philadelphia on July 14, 2015.

U.S. President Barack Obama at NAACP Convention in Philadelphia on July 14, 2015.

Barack Obama made history recently, when he became the first U.S. President to visit a federal prison.

He went to a medium-security lockup in El Reno, Oklahoma,“to shine a spotlight”on his criminal justice reform efforts that include reform “in the cell block” according to remarks he made two days earlier at the NAACP’s 106th national convention in Philadelphia, Pa. on July 14, 2015.
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President Obama’s Recent Report on Prison Reform

News brief: by Mary C. Piemonte

“Our nation is being robbed of men and women who could be workers and taxpayers, could be more actively involved in their children’s lives, could be role models, could be community leaders, and right now they’re locked up for a non-violent offense.” All because, “our criminal justice system isn’t as smart as it should be” according to President Barack Obama in remarks he made in his address at the NAACP’s 106th national convention on July 14, 2015.

And the he added that “mass incarceration makes our entire country worse off, and we need to do something about it.

Listen to his full remarks in this White House video of him “outlining the unfairness in much of our criminal justice system, and highlighting ideas of reform, the reasons why we need to reform America’s criminal justice system, and why we need to invest in our communities and expand opportunity for all Americans while keeping Americans safe and secure.”

Click here for the President’s full written remarks.

President Obama Commutes More Prison Sentences for Low-level Drug Offenders

News brief: by Mary C. Piemonte

In his continuing effort of granting clemency to nonviolent drug offenders President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 46 men and women, “nearly all of whom would have already served their time and returned to society if they were convicted of the exact same crime today,” according to his press release on July 13, 2015.

In a White House video released that day, Obama said that as a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and criminal defense attorney, he is”well acquainted with how federal sentencing practices” have created in too many instances“unduly harsh sentences” that have lead nonviolent drug offenders to spend decades, if not life, in prison.

And he added that “many people are justly punished for causing harm and perpetuating violence in our communities. But, in some cases, the punishment required by law far exceeded the offense.”

These unduly harsh sentences are one of the reasons the President said he is “committed to using all the tools at his disposal to remedy unfairness in our criminal justice system.”