Of all 44 presidents we’ve had in this nation, why is our first Black president the first one to visit a prison and actually care about its reform? He visited El Reno medium-security prison on July 15.
If you believe that individuals in prison have nothing to do with your life, and that they deserve whatever they have coming to them in prison, I strongly urge you to rethink.
Allow me to give you a few scenarios…
- Should a parent go to prison for killing the murderer of their child? If so, how long?
- How long should a person go to prison if they are caught with pounds of weed? Cocaine? Heroin? Should they serve the time?
- How long should a white officer go to prison for the wrongful death of an African-American?
- How long should a black officer go to prison for the wrongful death of a Caucasian?
- What about those in prison who are actually innocent?
The criminal justice system is a strict one, and it seems like once you’ve landed yourself in prison, your life is over—even if you get out.
There are no nationwide statistics showing the unemployment rate of ex-convicts, but I believe we can safely say that they are at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to that category. The most glamorized jobs for them are likely factory or warehouse jobs. Whether they offer more than minimum wage is unpredictable. Either way, workers are paying for those bucks with hard labor that can eventually affect their health and performance if they are there for many years. I am a former employee of FedEx Ground (hey, it paid the bills pretty nicely), however, I refuse to ever work that kind of job again solely because I know it would be hard for me to do (I am clearly not as strong as a man who can lift 100 pounds continuously) and working conditions can be unbearable. Be honest with yourself, would you choose that type of labor? Most would not.
So once these ex-cons realize that this is probably the end of the road for them, what do they do? Go right back to the lifestyle that landed them in jail originally—the cycle continues.
Our president is working to change the harshness of sentences for people he feels “are not hardened criminals” and make their punishment fit the crime. He commuted 46 drug offenders July 13 because he believed their sentence was too extreme for the crime they committed. This action is a small part of his large attempt at reforming the criminal justice system. Obama wants to review many parts of the sentencing process and implement changes including reducing sentencing for non-violent crimes. This commuted sentences brings Obama’s total commutations and presidential pardons, up to 89.
Most criminals that were commuted on Monday are drug offenders for non-violent crimes. Half of them were serving life sentences for these crimes. This is a powerful command that the president is using and he has been gaining support from many advocates and even some Republicans. I guess time has proved to give lenience for these type of offenders. The Justice Department has announced its plan to quickly move forward with a reform initiative. Removing the mandatory minimum sentence is one way they are doing just that. Former Attorney General Eric Holder said that our nation is “coldly efficient in jailing criminals” but also said the reality is the current method of “prosecuting and incarcerating” the nation into being safer is not working.
And next…check out: Obama goes to jail