"On Thursday, I will be the first sitting president to visit a federal prison." —President Obama
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 14, 2015
Nixon came close. https://t.co/T1DwJBGStJ
— David Swanson (@davidcnswanson) July 14, 2015
This is, as Vice-President Biden would say, a BFD. Per the Washington Post:
… As part of a weeklong focus on inequities in the criminal justice system, Obama will meet separately Thursday with law enforcement officials and nonviolent drug offenders who are paying their debt to society at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution, a medium-security prison for male offenders near Oklahoma City.
He’ll be the first sitting president to see the inside of a federal prison, the White House said…
From shortening the prison sentences of nearly four-dozen non-violent drug offenders to advocating the reduction, or outright elimination, of severe mandatory minimum sentences to visiting a federal prison, Obama has argued forcefully this week for an alternative to the continued lengthy incarceration of people convicted of crimes he said did not fit the punishment.
Fourteen of the convicts whose sentences he commuted this week had been serving life in prison.
“If you’re a low-level drug dealer, or you violate your parole, you owe some debt to society. You have to be held accountable and make amends,” Obama said in a speech at the NAACP’s annual convention this week. “But you don’t owe 20 years. You don’t owe a life sentence. That’s disproportionate to the price that should be paid.”…
Mr. Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire:
… I was stunned to learn that the current president would be the first person to visit a prison while in office when he stops by the El Reno facility in Oklahoma on Thursday. Considering that we’ve had 40-odd years of frenzied incarceration, at the largely bipartisan instigation of the various tenants of the White House, or at the largely bipartisan instigation of various people aspiring to live there, this strikes me as a considerable exercise of ensemble neglect or (more likely) ensemble cowardice on the part of his immediate predecessors.
Moreover, as has been his wont since he looked into the Great Shoebox of Fks and discovered that he had no more to give, the president is taking on all of criminal-justice reform at once. This week, he has gone after mandatory minimum sentences, and he’s chided various unfunny people about making prison-rape jokes, while suggesting at the same time that using the threat of sexual assault to coerce a confession or a plea is not what you call cricket…
As should be obvious, and regardless of the good faith of the people pushing a bipartisan movement toward reform, this is a completely thankless issue. I was briefly intrigued by Jim Webb when he first hit the Senate because he seized on prison reform as a signature issue. By 2011, after the country had elected the second-worst Congress in its history, Webb couldn’t even get the money to fund a commission to study the problem…
Jim Webb just issued a statement on the president's criminal justice push. The subject line: "IT’S ABOUT TIME, MISTER PRESIDENT!"
— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) July 15, 2015
Apart from that, what’s on the agenda for the day?