Tuesday, Aug 04th

LATEST:
You are here: U.S. News US president goes behind bars in push for criminal justice reform

Best_of_2015_587x57_Results

US president goes behind bars in push for criminal justice reform

obamaEL RENO, Oklahoma--President Barack Obama, who wrote in his memoir about using marijuana and cocaine as a youth, became the first sitting president to tour a federal prison on Thursday and met drug-offense inmates, saying he could have been in their place if not for the advantages he had growing up.

Obama spoke with inmates and toured El Reno federal prison, which holds 1300 inmates, 146 percent of its capacity. He vowed to work with wardens and corrections officers to address overcrowding, a piece of his administration's wide-ranging criminal justice reform agenda.

Obama walked down the prison's dimly-lit gray halls and stood at the door of Cell 123, Block B, noticing its two occupants' sparse supplies: brown uniforms, mesh laundry bags, dish soap and a few books. Six non-violent drug offenders shared their stories with Obama. Their discussions will air on HBO's "Vice" documentary program in September.

Speaking to reporters after their discussion, Obama reflected, "These are young people who made mistakes that aren't that different from mistakes I made."

"The difference is they did not have the support structure, the second chances, the resources that would allow them to survive these mistakes," he said.

More than 1.5 million Americans were in state or federal prisons at the end of 2013, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. African-Americans were 15 percent of the U.S. population at that time but accounted for about a third of its prisoners.

Obama wrote about his own drug use in his memoir "Dreams from my Father" and has made helping young black and Hispanic boys a priority of his remaining time in office through a program called "My Brother's Keeper". The issue is one he has said he intends to remain committed to after he leaves office in 2017.

For the unprecedented visit, guards cleared prisoners from the building where Obama toured and spoke. He said the criminal justice system should do a better job of discerning between young drug offenders from poor backgrounds and hardened, violent criminals.

"We have to consider whether this is the smartest way for us to control crime and rehabilitate individuals," Obama said.

El Reno is a medium-security prison. David Fathi, director of the National Prison Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the visit would not show Obama the extent of overcrowding or lengthy stints in solitary confinement that exist at maximum-security prisons. "He's not going to see the harshest and most restrictive and most problematic conditions in the federal prison system," Fathi said.

But, Fathi said, Obama deserves credit for being the first president to visit a federal prison and use his position to draw attention to the flawed system.

As his time in office begins to draw to a close, Obama has become more outspoken, while also enjoying a run of victories on Pacific Rim trade, his healthcare law, same-sex marriage rights and, earlier this week, a historic nuclear agreement with Iran. Overhauling prison sentencing is an issue he has set as a key goal for his final months in the White House. On Tuesday, he called on the U.S. Congress to send him a sentencing reform bill by the end of the year.

Image
St. Maarten midday Weather Forecast for Saturday
Saturday, 17 October 2015
DATE ISSUED: Saturday, October 17, 2015 @ 12:00 LST (16:00 UTC) VALID UNTIL: Sunday midday (12:00... Read more...
Image
SHTA poll: Businesses want anti-ship-jumping legislation
Saturday, 17 October 2015
Click here for SHTA graph pdf PHILIPSBURG--The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association... Read more...
Image
Dominica’s tourism sector ready to welcome visitors after TS Erika
Friday, 16 October 2015
ROSEAU, Dominica--“Dominica is open for business and ready to welcome visitors to its shores.”... Read more...
Image
Reparations Committee: Withdraw Queens’ names from Suriname’s highest mountains
Thursday, 15 October 2015
PARAMARIBO--Suriname’s National Reparations Committee NRCS has filed a request with President... Read more...
Image
Ex-US House Speaker Hastert to plead guilty in hush-money case
Friday, 16 October 2015
CHICAGO--Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is expected to plead guilty in a hush-money case... Read more...
Image
Hillary Clinton to 'look hard' at Julian Castro as possible VP pick
Friday, 16 October 2015
WASHINGTON--Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton won the backing of Housing and Urban... Read more...
Image
Half a million Yemen children face severe malnutrition
Friday, 16 October 2015
GENEVA--More than half a million children in Yemen face life-threatening malnutrition as a risk of... Read more...
Image
Modi to open 70-year-old files in challenge to Gandhi dynasty
Friday, 16 October 2015
NEW DELHI--Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will seek to unravel one of India's most enduring... Read more...
Image
Cuba in cash crunch due to low commodity prices, Venezuela woes
Friday, 16 October 2015
HAVANA--Low commodity prices, a drought at home and Venezuela's economic crisis have created a cash... Read more...
Image
Apple's newest courtroom foe is patent-savvy university
Friday, 16 October 2015
NEW YORK--As a veteran of the global smart phone wars, Apple is used to courtroom battles with... Read more...
Image
Focus needs to be on fighting crime & helping unemployed
Friday, 16 October 2015
Dear Editor, With all of the political situation on the island, we can't lose focus on some of the... Read more...
Image
Had enough
Friday, 16 October 2015
Dear Queenie, My brother died years ago but his widow stayed close to our family. Eventually she... Read more...
Image
RBC St. Maarten Little League School Tournament
Saturday, 17 October 2015
Sister Marie Laurence defeated Leonald Conner in the RBC St. Maarten Little League School... Read more...
Image
Nadal trounces Wawrinka, Djokovic tames Tomic
Friday, 16 October 2015
CHINA-- Former world number one Rafa Nadal displayed more signs of a return to top form with a... Read more...
Image
Junk shop photo spurs quest to confirm Billy the Kid image
Friday, 16 October 2015
DENVER--For the $2 he spent to buy three old photographs, Randy Guijarro may have hit the mother... Read more...
Image
Few signs of improvement for NBA star Odom after collapse
Friday, 16 October 2015
LAS VEGAS--Pro basketball and reality TV star Lamar Odom spent a third day hospitalized on... Read more...
Image
Bruney cruises into retirement
Friday, 16 October 2015
~ After three decade in cruise industry ~   By Alita Singh   Frank Bruney has seen tiny... Read more...
Image
ALL HANDS ON DECK, WE MADE IT!
Friday, 16 October 2015
~ Fair Transport Sailing Vessel Nordlys is launched ~   St. Maarten has been graced by the... Read more...
Editorial - Anybody’s guess
Saturday, 17 October 2015
Governor Eugene Holiday has decided to seek legal clarity on the current constitutional impasse.... Read more...
Editorial - Time is up
Friday, 16 October 2015
With so much ongoing constitutional turmoil, the fact that more than 100 people attended the... Read more...
Image
Saturday Oct. 17, 2015
Friday, 16 October 2015
Image
Friday Oct. 16, 2015
Friday, 16 October 2015
Notices October 16
Friday, 16 October 2015
General Meeting St. Maarten Professional Softball Association (SMPSA) general meeting for the... Read more...
Notices October 15
Thursday, 15 October 2015
General Meeting S.M.P.S.A. general meeting for the softball season 2016 will be held at Sundial... Read more...