Monday, November 2, 2015

Obama Continues His Crusade In Criminal Justice Reform

Obama, as well has supporting Black Lives Matter and confronting drug issues, has been resuming his reforms on criminal justice. He stated in multiple weekly addresses ( 1video and 2video) that much of citizen's taxes go to unfairly jailing non-violent criminals (8 billion). He wants to create more programs to help shorten the sentences of non-violent criminals and give them a chance to re-pay their communities. In the past 25 years it has been reported that the population in jails has increased significantly ("all time high") (source). Many of these offenders also go back to their old habits after serving their time in jail. Obama wants a "smarter, fairer criminal justice system" in which offenders are given better opportunities (source). He has been reported stating that "too often the punishment doesn't fit the crime" of the offender and it wastes valuable tax payer money (video).
Obama has been specifically focusing on drug dealers and users in this crusade. He spoke at NAACP of his major concern in his "race agenda;" jailing/sentencing (relating to his public support of Black Lives Matter and his concern on drug use) (video). Obama stated that offenders of low-level crimes owe debt to the communities but should not have to give up 20 years of their lives (video).
Will this be effective in both punishing and helping lower level offenders?
Is integrating offenders (non-violent) into society (sooner than before) safe? Or does it depend on the case?

Photo- source

4 comments:

Brianna Panozzo said...

The implementation of this will have to be strategic. We can not have criminals who believe that they won't be punished for doing illegal things. There still has to be a punishment for every offense. But if done right, then I don't see why it shouldn't help the offenders of lower crimes. Slightly lower prison sentences, or longer community service assignments have the potential to help significantly. And according to an official white house article (below) the money that can be saved from lesser prison sentence in the US can benefit society greatly- more money for education, etc.

The article also mentions the influx of African American and Latino prisoners each year. This is definitely a problem since they make up a much smaller proportion of the population. To prevent these offenders from continuing on a criminal road through life, the government could attempt some kind of program to help them get their lives together, or else the lesser sentences could just inspire them to continue being a criminal. We should give them a chance to improve after the first sentence, and if they don't, give them harsher punishments if they continue to break the law.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/07/15/president-obama-our-criminal-justice-system-isnt-smart-it-should-be

Carolyn Ku said...

I agree with Brianna the the implementation of Obama's plan would be difficult but the plan still holds merit. One difficulty is that people who have served jail time have difficulty getting hired, which means that they are more likely to return to crime once being released. So even if there were lower prison sentences, those sentences will still go on someone's record and affect their life even after they're released. I think that more community service could help convicts show that they have changed and help convince employers that they are fit for work. However, I also think that a change in the criminal justice system must also come with a shift in how the public sees people convicted and sentenced and a better understanding of why certain demographics are a greater proportion of inmates.

Louis Villa said...

I think it is super important to help people leaving prison stay out of prison for the rest of their lives. Two thirds of people who leave prisons reenter the prison within 3 years (http://steveapplegate.com/northcarolinatasc/reentryreport/stats-reentry-combined.pdf.pdf). Things such as community service that Obama mentions may help prisoners relate to their communities and become reintegrated successfully. It is important to make sure that prisoners are not just locked away for the length of their sentence. They need to be worked with so that they can live full lives after they leave prison.

Alex Binsacca said...

I think it depends on the type of crime and the type of person. In some cases there are those who never change. For instance a drug user who robs a store to shoot up again, ends up in jail. Then he is released to do it again. Whether the person changes or not is all up to him/her. That person has to want and accept the help, otherwise the new plan will just waste as much tax payer money as before. I think the plan could help, however I also must agree with Carolyn and Brianna as getting jobs for a convict is hard. Very few employers are okay with having a drug user or a molester as their new employee. So once again the plan is a good idea, however whether the plan works or not is all up to the convicts and today's society.