President Barack Obama returned to his Harvard Law Review roots (he was the first black president of the 100-plus-year-old journal in his last year at the school) as he penned a 55-page-article on our justice system, how his administration has moved the needle and how far we have to go to make substantive change.
Entitled “The President’s Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform,” the piece appeared in the January 2017 edition and, according to Harvard Magazine, “largely restates the bipartisan case for criminal-justice reform, with an emphasis on mass incarceration’s financial cost.”
Obama also touched on racial bias in our criminal-justice policymaking, writing,
A large body of research finds that, for similar offenses, members of the African American and Hispanic communities are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted, and sentenced to harsher penalties. Rates of parental incarceration are two to seven times higher for African American and Hispanic children. Over the past thirty years, the share of African American adults with a past felony conviction—and who have paid their debt to society—has more than tripled, and one in four African American men outside the correctional system now has a felony record. This number is in addition to the one in twenty African American men under correctional supervision. … The system of mass incarceration has endured for as long as it has in part because of the school-to-prison pipeline and political opposition to reform that insisted on “a stern dose of discipline—more policy, more prisons, more personal responsibility, and an end to welfare.” Today, however, much of that opposition has receded, replaced by broad agreement that policies put in place in that era are not a good match for the challenges of today.
In the last few weeks, Obama has been on a blitz to highlight and defend his legacy (including having all of his Cabinet heads release their achievements) as a wildcard president-elect and Republican-controlled Congress are set to take over the country.
Obama was the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, and he has commuted the sentences of more than 1,000 inmates, more than all of his predecessors combined.
Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump released some tweets this week and got into a Twitter beef with former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over The Celebrity Apprentice ratings.
Read the entire Harvard Law Review article here.