Obama Will Visit a Federal Prison Next Week

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Elderly prisoner
Photo: Andrew Burton/2013 Getty Images

As part of his push for sentencing reform, President Obama will visit a federal prison in Oklahoma on Thursday and record an interview there with VICE News for a documentary it’s producing about America’s criminal justice system. The visit to El Reno (a medium-security facility) will be the first-ever trip to a federal prison for a sitting U.S. president. The Washington Post reports that Obama will also give a speech about sentencing reform at the NAACP’s annual conference on Tuesday, and likely commute the sentences of dozens of nonviolent drug offenders next week as well. Obama last did that in March for 22 drug offenders, part of a clemency initiative his administration started in 2014 that has already received more than 30,000 applications from inmates. The White House apparently feels sentencing reform is one issue on which Washington may be able to reach bipartisan agreement before the end of Obama’s term. So far, many of the 2016 presidential candidates from both parties have indicated they want to pursue some kind of criminal justice reform in order to reduce the country’s prison population.