COMMENTARY

President Obama Aims To Tackle Problems Of The Justice System

Photo Credit: White House - President Obama.
Photo Credit: White House – President Obama.

The President in his weekly address said, “Thirty years ago, there were 500,000 people behind bars in America.  Today, there are 2.2 million.  The United States is home to 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.  Every year, we spend $80 billion to keep people locked up.”

He noted that although many people are imprisoned and deservedly so, there are others, however, who have been needlessly locked up for non-violent crimes for an extended period of time and this have given rise to the growth and huge prison population.

He argued that in far too many cases the criminal justice system is a conduit from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. This he said his administration is seeking to address by investing more in schools to give at-risk young people a better chance to succeed.

“I signed a bill reducing the 100 to 1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.  I’ve commuted the sentences of dozens of people sentenced under old drug laws we now recognize were unfair.  The Department of Justice has gotten “Smart on Crime,” refocusing efforts on the worst offenders, and pursuing mandatory minimum sentences less frequently,” the President said.

In addition, the President lamented that the criminal justice remains unfair but is encouraged by the fact that good people, of all political persuasions, are willing and eager to do something about it.

He stated that over the next few weeks he will be on a promotional blitz to highlight the work the work and effort of those who are working towards fixing the criminal justice system.

He also said, “I’ll keep working with lawmakers from both parties who are determined to get criminal justice reform bills to my desk.”

He noted that already Democrats and Republicans have come together in the Senate to introduce a bill that would reduce mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders, and reward prisoners with shorter sentences if they complete programs that make them less likely to commit a repeat offense.

“There’s a similar bill working its way through the House, and I’m encouraged by these kinds of bipartisan efforts.  This is progress – not liberal ideas or conservative ideas, but common-sense solutions to the challenges we face,” said the President.

“From the halls of Congress to the classrooms in our schools, we pledge allegiance to one nation under God with liberty, and justice, for all,” he added.

He further explained that justice means that children deserve to grow up in a safe and secure environment, fitting punishment to crime, and allowing Americans who have made mistakes to be to pay their debt to society, and re-join their community as active, rehabilitated citizens.

“Justice has never been easy to achieve, but it’s always been worth fighting for.  And it’s something I’ll keep fighting for as long as I serve as your president,” he concluded.

Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Editing by Jesus Chan

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