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What the President Said

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by Karima Amin

For the past few days President Obama has been sharing his thoughts about criminal injustice in Amerikkka. It was quite surprising for me to hear/read him opening up about mass incarceration, solitary confinement, juvenile detention and the racism that defines all of these issues and more. During his first and second presidential campaigns, he never said a word about Amerikkka’s prisons or prisoners. While immigrants, veterans, and seniors were singled out as persons worthy of respect and consideration, prisoners were ignored. I found that to be incredible, knowing that the US has less than 5% of the world’s population and almost 25% of the world’s prison population. The US incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the developed world. Most prisoners are poor and most are Black, which says a lot about arrest rates and the need for sentencing reform. President Obama said some things that we have been voicing for decades to no avail. Here are some quotes from the President. In spite of his leaving office, let us work toward the policy changes that will improve life for all of us.

“It is past time for a complete overhaul of this country’s criminal justice system.”

“The best time to stop crime is before it even starts. If we make investments early in our children we will reduce the need to incarcerate kids.”

“We have to reconsider whether 20-year, 30-year life sentences for non-violent crimes is the best way for us to solve these problems. Our criminal justice system isn’t as smart as it should be. We should invest in alternatives to incarceration… such as drug courts, treatment, and probation programs.”

“We need to fix conditions in our prisons. There should be no overcrowding, gang activity, rape, or overuse of solitary confinement. Prison should be a place where a person who has made a wrong turn can get back on track. Prisons should offer rehabilitation and increased opportunities for an individual’s future success.”

His comments about the community, the courts, and the prisons should be examined and used as we move forward with our work to effect policy changes. At the next meeting of PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO, INC. we will explore our current campaigns and plans for our future. Our focus for the last 10 years has primarily been concerned with community… and specifically with strengthening families with imprisoned loved ones. Please join us at our next monthly meeting to share your thoughts on Monday, July 27 at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt St. in Buffalo, from 7:00-9:00pm. For more information contact Karima: 716-834-8438 or karima@prisonersarepeopletoo.org. Visit our website: www.prp2.org and/or “like” us on Facebook.

“God has not called us to see through each other, but to see each other through.” (Anonymous)

Karima Amin is a longtime Buffalo Activist, Educator, and Storyteller as well as founder and director of Prisoners Are People Too (PRP2).

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