Visitors with a criminal record say roadblocks show a disconnect with Obama’s message of redemption
President Barack Obama, as part of his push to overhaul the criminal-justice system, has said ex-offenders should have a chance at redemption. The White House’s security operation, however, hasn’t always been on board.
Invited guests with convictions in their past have encountered an array of roadblocks when attending meetings with administration officials. Some have been denied entry. Others have been assigned an escort. Several said they felt stigmatized by the experience.
There are many factors that could prompt tighter security, including the rise of Islamic State and concerns about lone-wolf domestic threats. The Secret Service also has experienced some miscues—including not preventing a man who jumped the fence from making it inside the White House—that have raised questions about Mr. Obama’s protection.
Still, those who have been stopped at the gate, among them leaders on criminal-justice issues, say their experiences reveal a disconnect between the administration’s rhetoric and its real-life practices. And, even with bipartisan agreement that change is needed, their treatment shows how hard it will be to alter business and government practices ingrained through decades of use.