Obama also is scheduled to speak Tuesday at the annual NAACP convention in Philadelphia and discuss the criminal justice system, focusing on what he considers the excessive incarceration of African-American men, an Obama adviser said.
President Barack Obama on Monday commuted the sentences of 46 prisoners serving lengthy terms for nonviolent drug offenses, doubling the number granted such clemency in his first six years in office.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015, PHILADELPHIA: President Barack Obama said he wanted to work with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on new prison sentencing reform legislation by the end of the year to reduce sentences for low-level drug dealers and parole violations.
Although the president’s soaring, singing eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney was a clear precursor to Tuesday’s speech, Obama maintained a tone more politician than preacher. “We have to make sure that as they do their time and pay back their debt to society that we are increasing the possibility that they can turn their lives around”.
Lenore Anderson, who co-authored Proposition 47 and serves as the executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, said voter attitudes had shifted decisively on the issue, and the goal of the proposition was “We could finally put the nail in the coffin that the only way to talk about criminal justice was with a “tough on crime” lens”. Yet Obama’s ability to address the problem unilaterally is limited, as the White House readily concedes.
“Mass incarceration makes our country worse off”, Obama said.
“There’s momentum building for reform”, Obama said, pointing to growing interest from both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill and around the country.
“The statistics can not be ignored”. The nonprofit coalition effort was criticized by Iowa Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who is concerned that the Justice Department has essentially outsourced a government function to the Project. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island proposed a plan that would allow for prisoners to reduce their sentences by participating in jobs and other programs. It would be much more effective if Congress would change the laws. Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., planned to give a speech Thursday in the troubled city of Camden focusing on nonviolent drug offenders.
“You’ve got the NAACP and the Koch brothers”, Obama joked to NAACP members, referring to the billionaire Republican political donors.
Since Congress enacted mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes in the 1980s, the federal prison population has grown from 24,000 to more than 214,000, according to Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a group seeking sentencing changes. And the U.S. Sentencing Commission has revised guidelines for drug offenders, so far retroactively reducing sentences for more than 9,500 inmates, almost three-quarters of them black or Hispanic.
President Obama announced yesterday he has granted clemency to dozens of federal inmates, the vast majority of them sentenced under draconian crack cocaine laws.