As President Obama presses for an overhaul of criminal justice laws in order to reverse many decades of steep penalties that pack the nation’s prisons and jails–most of which disproportionately affect African-American and Hispanic men–he states that the criminal justice system is too costly and has housed too many non-violent offenders for too long.
In one of few agreements that the President has had with the Republican Party in his entire six years in office, his approvals include non-violent inmates (most with drug offenses) who have been in the system for at least 10 years and would have been released sooner under the new guidelines.
In a pre-holiday move, President Obama signed all 95 approval letters personally, telling the fortunate ones that ‘they have demonstrated the potential to turn their lives around and that it is up to them to make the most of the opportunity that they have been given’.
President Obama has “left the country” [sic] for two weeks on holiday break in Hawaii, but he has been very serious about his desire to see the entire federal justice system revamped in order to “uphold our ideals of fairness and justice.”
The President said it has taken 20 years for us to get where we are now, and the unfairness will not be reversed overnight. Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton was President.
Clinton’s wife and current Democratic Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, now finds herself having to run directly against some of her own husband’s tumultuous policies, which he has admitted were a “mistake” that unfairly targeted Black and Hispanic men.
Mrs. Clinton, speaking at a public policy forum at Columbia University, said that the recent string of fatal encounters between police officers and unarmed black males suggests that the criminal justice system is “out of balance.”
If the “First Black President” can at least admit his own policy mistakes on non-violent drug offenses, the least the “Second” Black President can do is work to reverse those disparities.
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