The Obama Administration has now put criminal justice front and center as its main issue in his already impressive set of reforms. On the heels of commuting the sentences of 46 federal convicts, Obama will soon be the first president to visit a federal prison where he will talk to inmates and prison guards. He has also spoken on the issue recently in the media with a speech to the NAACP convention and also sat down ‘The Wire’ creator David Simon earlier this year to speak about criminal justice reform. In his NAACP speech, Obama spoke against mandatory minimums, a lack of voting rights, jail abuse and job discrimination that many current and former convicts face.
Mass Incarceration and over-sentencing are important issues that disproportionately affect poor people of color. Our criminal justice system is one of the most systematically racist institutions in our country. African Americans and Latinos make up only 30% of the population, but 60% of the prison system. 1 and every 35 and 1 and every 88 black and latin men respectively, are behind bars. Around 1 and 9 African American child has a father in prison. This is one of the greatest unspoken injustices in America. You want black people to stop crying about racism, changing the way we sentence and jail our people of color for non-violent crimes would go a long way in changing that. This along with an overhaul of our policing system needs to happen soon.