Washington, D.C. — President Barack Obama is set to be the first sitting president to visit a federal prison on Thursday, July 15, during a week that has seen considerable focus on various aspects of criminal justice. On Monday, he commuted the sentences of 46 individuals, and on Tuesday during a speech at the NAACP Convention in Philadelphia, he discussed inequity in the criminal justice system, touching upon the need for meaningful criminal justice reform and the significant reform efforts his administration has already made. Todd A. Cox, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response:
There is so much more to be done in order to achieve real reform that would keep our communities safe while ending mass incarceration and overcriminalization and removing unnecessary barriers to socio-economic opportunities for those with criminal records. The impact of overcriminalization and overincarceration resonates throughout the country. Between 70 million and 100 million Americans—or as many as one in three—have a criminal record. Today, even a minor criminal record serves as both a direct cause and consequence of poverty, presenting obstacles to employment, housing, public assistance, education, family reunification, and more. The impact of mass incarceration on communities of color is particularly staggering and is a significant driver of racial inequality in the United States.
The Center for American Progress urges Congress and the administration to implement meaningful criminal justice reform that ensures that the justice system remains fair, balanced, and equitable and affords those with criminal records a second chance.
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