Good Guy Obama: Releasing Nonviolent Drug Convicts
Author: Justin Mckibben
Opinions on Obama always go both ways, but the Commander and Chief is certainly making an effort for some serious change. This definitely wouldn’t be the first time President Barack Obama has spoken out against the immense failures of the past “War on Drugs” and how it has created a systematic ripple of negative side-effects on the American population.
Since his time in office the president has been involved in a view changes that people could argue over all day, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which was most recently upheld by the Supreme Court, along with the incredible decision affirming the constitutional grounds of marriage equality which the president also had an active role in supporting.
But beyond this work, which for the time may be in the early stages of enormous progress some say will prove him an amazing president, Barack Obama has not decided to waste any time to rest on these achievements and call it a night. Apparently the White House is burning the midnight oil, and Obama plans to turn the focus now to drug addicts and felons.
The Mass Commute
With no time to waste, Obama plans to commute dozens of sentences for non-violent drug offenders within the next few weeks! Reportedly President Obama sees this act as righting just one of the many wrongs that came out of the prison-industrial complex. One of those issues in particular being the unfair surveillance and penalties received by minority men and women, many of whom are serving time for non-violent drug crimes.
Through the power of clemency the president is said be shortening or lessening more prison sentences at one time than any president has in the last 50 years! In relation to Obama’s predecessors:
- Ronald Reagan only commuted 13 prison-sentences in eight years of office
- George W. Bush, commuted only 11 prison-sentences while in office
- Lyndon Johnson commuted 80 convicted criminals in 1966
The total number of prison commutations during Obama’s presidency may actually surpass the current record of 80 help by Johnson, with over 30,000 federal inmates already requesting attenuated jail time. But not all these requests have reached the president himself, and out of the few that have all might not be forgiven.
Obama has been steadily working toward correcting the drug laws of the past that have created a surge in the prison system, but for many of those already in prison the question becomes will this new application of compassionate drug laws be effectively retroactive?
Luckily systemic problems within the criminal justice system have recently become a major concern for all political parties, so now Democrats and Republicans in the upcoming election are harmonizing in a collection of voices calling for a substantial overhaul with great attention to detail due to the broken prison system.
The Prison Problem
It has become an embarrassing fact known around the world that the United States, land of the free, has more prisoners than any other country. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) America has the world’s largest incarcerated population.
America only makes up 5% of the world’s population, yet our nation has 25% of the entire world’s prison population! Those numbers add up to a disturbing reality; our system is built to punish, not to rehabilitate.
A massive contribution to this enormous spike in criminality has been credited to several areas of our system in desperate need of reconstructions, such as:
- For-profit prisons
- Unfair mandatory sentencing
- The War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is now being viewed at a bipartisan level as being a failure, and now the mind-set has shifted to reforming drug laws and establishing regulations based on rehabilitation instead of harsh reprimand.
To date, President Obama has denied more than 9,000 clemency applications, only granting 38, all of which were drug convictions with some ever serving life sentences. Still, there is a lot standing between Obama and a large-scale commute, including a web of old White House policy to overcome.
So the question becomes, will this work. If it does work, who will be freed and how will they chose between one and another with such an overwhelming turn-out of applications? Then some people are asking if this is the right thing to do.
Only time will tell.
The idea that making this kind of change to help people who may have been given a raw deal and give them another opportunity to become part of society may seem to some like a fairy tale, but to many it is the beginning of a revolution into promoting positive change and an outlook based on faith in humanity.
If you or a loved one is facing jail or prison as a result of drug-related offenses, getting help might be the answer; and it might lessen or replace a jail sentence altogether. Treatment facilities offer all kinds of services, including professionals to advocate for you while in rehab. Hopefully these kinds of holistic treatment methods with overshadow the old regime of punishment.
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