Obama Gives Plug For Criminal Justice Reform In State Of The Union Talk


President Obama briefly mentioned criminal justice reform in last night’s State of the Union address, the Huffington Post reports. The President alluded to the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City last year, and said that while people may have differing opinions on those deaths at police hands, there is room for agreement on criminal justice reform more broadly. “We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can't walk home without being harassed,” Obama said. “Surely we can understand the wife who won't rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift.”

Obama said the face that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together should be “a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America's criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.” He did not offer details, but his commission now looking at policing issues is expected to offer recommendations in March. Ohio State University law Prof. Douglas Berman comments on his Sentencing Law & Policy blog, “The absence of anything more substantive or substantial about federal criminal justice reform confirms my sense and fear that President Obama is more content simply to support criminal justice reforms pushed by others from behind rather than committed seriously to leading reform efforts from the bully pulpit.”

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