US President Barack Obama on Saturday called for a meaningful reform of the US criminal justice system to make it “fairer” while citing that there are 2.2 million people behind bars in America and $80 billion is spent on them which adversely affects the economy.
“Today, there are 2.2 million people behind bars in America and millions more on parole or probation. Every year, we spend $80 billion in taxpayers’ dollars to keep people incarcerated. Many are non-violent offenders serving unnecessarily long sentences,” Obama said.
In his weekly radio and web address to the nation, Obama spoke about the need for meaningful criminal justice reform in America.
“Over the course of this year, I’ve been talking to folks around the country about reforming our criminal justice system to make it smarter, fairer, and more effective,” Obama said.
America faces a cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration that traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities, he said.
“We know that having millions of people in the criminal justice system, without any ability to find a job after release, is unsustainable. It’s bad for communities and it’s bad for our economy,” Obama said.
Obama on Monday will travel to Newark, New Jersey to highlight efforts to help Americans who have paid their debt to the society and reintegrate them back into their communities.
“Everyone has a role to play, from businesses that are hiring ex-offenders to philanthropies that are supporting education and training programmes,” he said.
“And I’ll keep working with people in both parties to get criminal justice reform bills to my desk, including a bipartisan bill that would reduce mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders and reward prisoners with shorter sentences if they complete programmes that make them less likely to commit a repeat offence,” Obama said.
“There’s a reason that good people across the country are coming together to reform our criminal justice system. Because it’s not about politics. It’s about whether we as a nation live up to our founding ideal of liberty and justice for all. And working together, we can make sure that we do,” he said.