President Wants To See Changes Made To Federal Prison System

Thursday, July 16th 2015, 11:32 pm
By: Craig Day

Thursday, the president wrapped up his third visit to Oklahoma as president with a history-making tour of the federal prison in El Reno. It was the first visit by a sitting president to a federal prison.

During President Barack Obama’s visit to the facility, he said he has no tolerance for violent criminals, but long prison terms for non-violent offenders should be reconsidered.

7/16/2015 Related Story: President Obama Visits Federal Correctional Institution In El Reno

Obama met with six non-violent drug offenders during his visit to the federal prison in El Reno and said he was struck with how easily a young person with few resources could end up in prison.

"These are young people who made mistakes that aren't that different than the mistakes I made and mistakes a lot of you guys make. The difference is they did not have the kinds of support structures, the second chances, the resources that would allow them to survive those mistakes," Obama said.

The president outlined several changes he'd like to see in the federal prison system, including eliminating the mandatory minimum for non-violent offenders.

"We have to consider whether this is the smartest way for us to both control crime and rehabilitate individuals," he said.

Obama also stressed the importance of job training, college courses and drug counseling.

7/15/2015 Related Story: President Speaks In Durant; Lays Out Plan To Expand High-Speed Internet

He said, "We've got to be able to distinguish between dangerous individuals who need to be incapacitated and incarcerated versus young people who are in an environment where they're adapting, but if given different opportunities, a different vision of life, could be thriving the way we are."

After his two-hour visit in El Reno, the president traveled to Tinker Air Force base on Marine One and went directly to Air Force One with only a brief wave to the crowd gathered there.

The president also wants to restore voting rights for felons who have served their sentences and he'd like employers to "ban the box" that asks job applicants about their criminal histories.