Obama continues to speak out against mass incarceration

President Barack Obama has come forward with a proposed set of policies aimed at helping to reintegrate ex-convicts into society.  Included in these plans, Obama plans to execute an executive action that would prohibit government employers from requiring job applicants to indicate their criminal history until later in the application process.
The President’s announcement comes as the latest in a series of proposed criminal justice reforms made by his administration.  In the past year, partly in response to calls from social activist groups such as Black Lives Matter, the President has made a series of speeches regarding some unfair elements of the criminal justice system.  Obama has been outspoken about reducing prison sentences for non-violent offenses and the impediments that having a criminal record has on individuals searching for jobs.  Just a few weeks ago, Obama became the first sitting president to visit an American prison.  There, he spoke to inmates about the troubles many ex-convicts face when they search for jobs after being released.  According to the Department of Justice, nearly 75 percent of former prisoners are unable to find work in their first year out of prison.
The plan is popularly known as “ban the box,” which refers to the section on employment applications where applicants are required to indicate whether or not they have a criminal record.  The movement has gained support from Democrats and Republicans alike.  All three Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley support the proposal as well as Republican hopefuls Chris Christie and Rand Paul.
Policies like these should aim, in part, to transform our criminal justice system, from a punitive institution to a rehabilitative one.  If the point of a prison sentence is to pay a debt to society, should the effects of serving time linger long after?  In theory, the system should work in a way that when a person is released from prison, they be free to pursue whatever careers or opportunities they please.  In reality however, this is not the case.  I cannot fault a business owner for being weary of hiring an ex-convict after all.  This raises the issue of non-violent offense sentences.  The President has several times expressed his desire to see limited or no prison time for individuals convicted of non-violent crimes. By doing so, we could see a decrease in both the prison population, and the amount of taxpayer money spent on incarceration.
-PJP

You May Also Like

+ There are no comments

Add yours