President Barack Obama visited the campus of Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey this past Monday. The purpose of the visit to Newark was to discuss his continuing revision of the US criminal justice system and release of prisoners back into the population. In attendance at the event were Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, US Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. and members of the RU-N student body.
President Obama stated to those gathered, “[There are] folks who are working hard to get back on track,” President There are people who have gone through tough times, they’ve made mistakes. But with a little bit of help, they can get on the right path.” Obama went on further to say that providing help to those reentering the population makes sense because it results in less crime, less recidivism, less wasted money, safer communities, more stable families, and economic growth.”
These actions, according to the President, will include assisted housing, banning the box in federal employment, expanding technological training and jobs for individuals with criminal records, permanent supportive housing for the reentry population through “Pay for Success,” and juvenile reentry assistance program awards to support public housing residents.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka issued a press release which states in part, “The City of Newark is also appreciative of the interest that the President took in one of our comprehensive therapeutic addictions treatment program, Integrity House, taking time to visit the site and to meet with program participants. During his remarks at Rutgers University, he recognized several Newarkers who have successfully completed rehabilitation and reintegration programs and are currently giving back to the City and County. President Obama’s visit to Newark is certain to provide additional momentum to criminal justice reform initiatives locally and nationally. We thank him for recognizing our efforts to transform Newark into a City we can ALL believe in, and by extension, our nation into a society we can all believe in.”
President Obama’s visit comes on the heels of the release of 6,000 federal prisoners, which started Nov. 1, 2015. Most of these prisoners were arrested for low level drug offenses that have since been revised. The federal government estimates that overtime more than 40K inmates will be released under similar circumstances and convictions. A significant number of those to be released were convicted during the ’80s and ’90s under the mandatory minimum sentencing policy of the US judicial system.