President Obama will travel around the U.S. in the coming weeks to encourage changes to the criminal justice system that would reduce incarceration rates, the Associated Press reports. Obama says he's encouraged by lawmakers' efforts to reduce the mandatory minimum sentence for nonviolent drug offenders. He says many of the people in prison belong there but that the U.S. is also locking up more nonviolent offenders than ever before. During his travel, Obama says he'll meet with police chiefs, a community battling drug abuse and former prisoners.
In his weekly address on Saturday, Obama says bills on sentencing reform now pending in Congress are “progress – not liberal ideas or conservative ideas, but common-sense solutions to the challenges we face.” He also said that “much of our criminal justice system remains unfair. In recent years, more of our eyes have been opened to this truth. We can't close them anymore. And good people, of all political persuasions, are eager to do something about it.” At his Sentencing Law and Policy blog, Ohio State University law Prof. Douglas Berman says, “I remain frustrated that Prez Obama seems to continue to be content to talk about the need for more action rather than actually take more action. In addition to lots more clemency grants … Obama could create more task forces to examine existing evidence on the most successful local and state-level reforms. In particular, with all the continuing local and state-level marijuana reform activity, I think it is long overdue for Prez Obama to show some leadership in this criminal justice reform space through some significant executive action.”