Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Obama will visit US prison for a fairer justice system

16 July 2015, 18:53

Oklahoma City - In his push for a fairer justice system, Barack Obama is set to become the first sitting U.S. President to visit the inside of a federal prison.

As part of a focus on inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system, Obama will meet separately Thursday with law enforcement officials and nonviolent drug offenders who are paying their debt to society at a medium-security prison for male offenders in the state of Oklahoma.

Also read: Raul Castro eyes 'new stage' for US-Cuba as ties to resume

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.

Obama has said that overly harsh prison sentences, particularly for nonviolent drug crimes, are to blame for doubling the prison population in the past two decades. Half a million people were behind bars in 1980, a figure that has since quadrupled to its current total of more than 2.2 million inmates.

"Mass incarceration makes our country worse off, and we need to do something about it," Obama said in a recent speech.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said "unique steps" will be taken to protect Obama during the visit. He did not elaborate.

Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said "comprehensive security screening" will be conducted, calling it standard practice.

Danny Spriggs, a former deputy director of the U.S. Secret Service, which provides the president's security, said Obama's prison tour likely will be limited to critical areas, and those areas will be roped off so that access is given only to the warden and immediate staff so they can explain what happens there daily.

"Those hallways will be clear," Spriggs said.

Earlier this week, Obama commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders, 14 of whom 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 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."

Obama said taxpayers are the ones left to pay the $80 billion annual cost of locking up people who otherwise could be in rehabilitative programs for less than the cost of incarceration. Or they could be workers paying taxes, or be more involved in their children's lives, or be role models and leaders in their communities.

Obama has also called for restoring voting rights to felons who have served their sentences, and said employers should "ban the box" that asks job applicants about their criminal histories.

The U.S. President has expressed hope that Congress will send him legislation to address the issue before he leaves office in 18 months, given the level of interest in the issue among Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...