Wednesday, July 15, 2015

In Sweeping Speech, Obama Calls for Enfranchising Felons and Limiting Solitary Confinement

President Obama just gave a major speech calling for criminal justice reform. The speech presented an expansive yet detailed argument not only for reducing the number of people serving time in prison, but for changing the way prison time is spent so that individuals return to society better-equipped to succeed.

The speech, delivered in Philadelphia at the annual conference of the NAACP, comes one day after the president commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders serving time in federal prison, and one day before a scheduled visit to a federal prison in Oklahoma.

The speech was wide-ranging—Obama said he wanted to talk about proposals “in the community, in the courtroom, and in the cellblock”—but was built upon a basic thesis, that the American criminal justice system “is not as fair as it should be,” and that “while the people in our prisons have made some mistakes, and sometimes big mistakes, they are also Americans.”

“Mass incarceration makes our country worse off,” Obama said, “and we need to do something about it.”



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