CJRecently, President Obama gave a speech to the NAACP in Philadelphia about reforming the criminal justice system. In the same week he became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, and he announced that he would commute 46 non-violent drug offenders’ sentences, because they were given unjust penalties for their crimes.

This is not the first instance of prison reform and it certainly will not be the last. Especially when considering the fact that the United States is currently at its height for percentage of the population in prison. In fact, part of the problem lies in the length of the punishments for certain crimes. Many violent crimes, like murder and rape, have a longer sentence nowadays than an equally gruesome offense carried in the 80’s or 90’s. The criminal justice system puts offenders away for longer periods of time, and even continues to punish them upon their release by denying them certain civil liberties, such as public housing, voting, serving on a jury, and many more.

Prisons are overcrowded and it is incredibly expensive to keep prisoners in jail. Yet, the percentage of incarcerated population continues to increase. There is also a rising notion that the criminal justice system has become unjust to criminals, at least to those that paid attention to Obama’s speech.

His words called for an all-out reform, and that is likely on the horizon somewhere down the line. Last year a bill was passed to reduce the sentences of more than 46,000 prisoners, which went without much news attention. Certain violent criminals, whom everyone believes belong in jail, may not actually deserve a life sentence. When weighing the cost of keeping a prisoner in jail versus the cost of letting him/her out, Obama calls for more judicial discretion.

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, or their professional license is at risk, contact Attorney Miranda McCroskey for an immediate free consultation at (714) 389-2257 or email her at mmccroskey@whbllp.com.

Miranda is a partner at Wilson Harvey Browndorf in Irvine, heading the criminal defense department.

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