As Obama Commutes the Sentences of Drug Offenders, Incarceration of Minorities is Examined

President Obama hasn’t been the greatest at handling America’s race issues, or even addressing them for that matter. But he took an admirable step in that direction recently:

President Obama announced on Monday [July 13th]  that he was commuting the sentences of 46 drug offenders, intensifying a campaign to overhaul the nation’s criminal justice system as he more than doubled the number of nonviolent criminals granted clemency during his time in office.”

– NYTimes.com

In doing so, he drew attention to the racist nature of America’s criminal justice system and his efforts to remedy the problem:

“The move came on the eve of a speech by Mr. Obama to the N.A.A.C.P. in Philadelphia, where he plans to outline his proposals for revamping the juvenile and criminal justice systems, including sentencing guidelines, and to call on Congress to act this year. The commutations are also part of a broader effort by the president to use executive power and his influence on Capitol Hill to address racial disparities on a range of fronts, like overtime pay and residential segregation.”

“’What the president is doing is showing the public through his power that there are people who are in jail for nonviolent drug offenses who have something to contribute to society and should not be there,’ said Michael Collins, the policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. ‘The drug war has been a war on people of color,’ and policies like mandatory minimum sentences ‘have really decimated these communities.’”

– NYTimes.com 

Let’s hope Pres. Obama and other lawmakers supporting these vital reforms are serious about creating change. Let’s also continue to be vocal about what’s important to us and our communities.

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