A focus on criminal justice reform during speeches Wednesday by President Obama and others to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington is “a sign that we are moving in the right direction,” says the Justice Policy Institute. President Obama said today from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that the justice system should not be “a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails.” Former President Bill Clinton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgian Democrat, also echoed Attorney General Eric Holder's recent call for reforms.
“Our president understands the impacts of racial profiling and sentencing disparities, and he wants the nation, as well, to understand the widespread impact of incarceration and its collateral consequences,” said Marc Schindler, executive director of the justice advocacy group. Obama called for equality in criminal justice. Clinton said, “There remain racial inequalities in employment, income, health, wealth, incarceration, and in the victims and perpetrators of violent crime.” And Lewis said, “The scars and stains of racism still remain deeply embedded in American society, whether it is stop and frisk in New York or injustice in [the] Trayvon Martin case in Florida, (or) the mass incarceration of millions of Americans…”