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Il presidente USA Barack Obama
US president Barack Obama
USA: PRESIDENT OBAMA VISITS FEDERAL PRISON, EXTENDING HIS CAMPAIGN FOR REFORM IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. HE IS THE FIRST SITTING PRESIDENT TO SEE THE INSIDE A FEDERAL PRISON FIRST HAND

July 16, 2015: The president visited the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma, a complex which includes sections of buildings separated by large green yards and barbed wire fences. The prison is a medium-security facility that holds 1,300 inmates. A meeting with six inmates and prison officials - part of a Vice news special that will air on HBO later this year - prompted the president to reflect on the similarities between the "mistakes I made" and those that landed the men in prison. “When they described their youth and childhood… these are young people who made mistakes that aren’t that different then the mistakes I made, and the mistakes a lot of… you guys made…” "The difference is that they did not have the kinds of support structures, the second chances, the resources that would allow them to survive those mistakes," Mr. Obama told reporters. "I think we have a tendency sometimes to almost take for granted or think it's normal that so many young people end up in our criminal justice system. It's not normal. It's not what happens in other countries." "What is normal is teenagers doing stupid things. What is normal is young people making mistakes and we have got to be able to distinguish between dangerous individuals who need to be incapacitated and incarcerated, versus young people who are in an environment in which they are adapting, but if given different opportunities, a different vision of life, could be thriving the way we are," he continued. "I think that is something we all have to think about." While there, he met with six inmates in prison for drug offenses. "Every single one of them emphasized the fact that they had done something wrong, they are prepared to take responsibility for it, but they also urged us to think about how society could've reached them earlier on in life to keep them out of trouble," the president said. "We have to consider whether this is the smartest way for us to both control crime and rehabilitate individuals," the president said Thursday. "We have to reconsider whether 20 year, 30 year, life sentences for nonviolent crimes is the best way for us to solve these problems." Obama toured the El Reno with Charles Samuels, director of the Bureau of Prisons, and correctional officer Ronald Warlick. And the president got a close look at cell 123. The cell had two beds that could be converted into a bunk. There were three storage lockers. A sink and toilet stood in the corner. There was a window with three bars and was about 1-foot wide and roughly 3-feet tall. Though the president highlighted the institution as "outstanding" it, like many of the nation's federal and state prisons, is over crowded. At El Reno each 9-foot by 10-foot cell holds three people. The president has highlighted inequities in the criminal justice system all week. On Monday (July 13), he commuted the federal prison sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders, 14 of whom were serving life terms. 95,000 federal inmates are serving time for drug offenses, which represents 48.6 percent of that population. Among them thousands of nonviolent offenders sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Most are poor, and four in five are African American or Hispanic. 35,000 inmates have applied for clemency since the spring of 2014. 89 inmates have been freed, including 46 today. It is more than the last four presidents combined. In the spring of 2014, then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. — who had called mandatory minimum sentences “draconian” — started an initiative to grant clemency to certain nonviolent drug offenders in federal prison. They had to have served at least 10 years of their sentence, have no significant criminal history, and no connection to gangs, cartels or organized crime. They must have demonstrated good conduct in prison. And they also must be inmates who probably would have received a “substantially lower sentence” if convicted of the same offense today. And on Tuesday (July 14), in a speech to the NAACP in Philadelphia, Obama argued for shortening or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for those same offenders, and against solitary confinement. President Barack Obama speaks on criminal justice reform at the NAACP's 106th National Convention in Philadelphia, Pa., on July 14, 2015. It is undeniable that the speech he delivered in Philadelphia on Tuesday to the annual convention of the NAACP broke new ground. Many presidents have spoken before, and some with great ardor, about law and order. But no sitting president has ever publicly spoken at such length and in such detail as Obama now has about the persistent problems of crime and punishment in this country. The president called for meaningful change at virtually every juncture: from the first interaction with police officers to prosecutorial charging discretion to the prison sentences imposed by judges to the conditions of confinement to the need for job training for those who are about to be released. Here are key passages from an address that surely will help shape the Congressional debate over justice reform in the weeks to come. “In recent years, the eyes of more Americans have been opened to this truth. Partly because of cameras, partly because of tragedy, partly because the statistics cannot be ignored. We cannot close our eyes anymore, and the good news, and this is truly good news, is that good people of all political persuasions are starting to think that we need to do something about this”. On over-sentencing of low-level, nonviolent drug offenders: “In far too many cases the punishment simply does not fit the crime. If you are a low-level drug dealer or you violate your parole, you owe some debt to society. You have to be held accountable and make amends. But you don’t owe 20 years. You don’t owe a life sentence. That’s disproportionate to the price that should be paid. And by the way the taxpayers are picking up the tab for that price”. On the opportunity costs of mass incarceration: “Every year we spend $80 billion dollars to keep folks incarcerated. Eighty billion. Now to put that in perspective: for $80 billion dollars we could have universal preschool for every three-year-old and four-year-old in America. That’s what $80 billion dollars buys. For $80 billion dollars, we could double the salary of every high school teacher in America. For $80 billion, we could finance new roads and new bridges and new airports, job training programs, and research and development... For what we spend to keep everyone locked up for one year, we could eliminate tuition at every single one of our public colleges and universities”. “As Republican senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul has said… imprisoning large numbers of nonviolent drug offenders for long periods of time costs the taxpayers money without making them any safer. Roughly one-third of the Justice Department’s budget now goes toward incarceration. One third…. But every dollar they have to spend keeping nonviolent drug offenders in prison is a dollar they can’t spend going after drug kingpins or tracking down terrorists or hiring more police and giving them the resources that would allow them to do a more effective job of community policing”. On racial disparities in criminal justice: “And then of course there are the costs that cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Because the statistics on who gets incarcerated show that by a large margin, it disproportionately impacts communities of color. African Americans and Latinos make up 30 percent of our population; they make up 60 percent of our inmates…. The bottom line is that in too many places, black boys and black men, Latino boys and Latino men, experience being treated differently under the law…. This is not just anecdote. This is not just barbershop talk”. “One of the consequences of this is around one million fathers are behind bars. Around one in nine African-American kids has a parent in prison…. Our nation is being robbed of men and women who could be workers and taxpayers, who could be more actively involved in their children’s lives, could be role models, could be community leaders, and right now they are locked up for a nonviolent offense. So our criminal justice system isn’t as smart as it should be, it’s not keeping us as safe as it should be, it’s not as fair as it should be”. On changes to federal prosecutorial discretion: “Under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, now continued by Loretta Lynch, federal prosecutors got what he called “smart on crime,” which is refocusing efforts on the worst offenders, pursuing mandatory minimum sentences 20 percent less often than they did the year before. That idea is that you don’t always have to charge the max. To be a good prosecutor, you have to be proportionate. And it turns out that we are solving just as many cases, there are just as many plea bargains, it’s working, it’s just that we are just eliminating the excess”. On what the reform should look like in the community: “I believe crime is like any other epidemic. The best time to stop it is before it starts. And I am going to go ahead and say what I have said a hundred times before…. If we make investments early in our children we will reduce the need to incarcerate those kids. One study found that for every dollar we invest in pre-K, we save at least twice that down the road in reduced crime. Getting a teenager a job for the summer costs a fraction of what it costs to lock him up for 15 years”. On the school-to-prison pipeline: “What doesn’t make sense is treating entire neighborhoods as little more than danger zones…. Places like West Philly or West Baltimore, or Ferguson, Missouri, they are part of America, too. They are not separate. They are part of America like anywhere else, the kids there are American kids, just like your kids and my kids. We’ve got to make sure that boys and girls in those communities are loved and cherished and supported and nourished and invested in”. “And we have to have the same standards for those children as we have for our own children. So if you are a parent, you know there are times when a boy or a girl are going to act out in school. And the question is, are we letting principals and parents deal with one set of kids and we call the police on another set of kids. That’s not the right thing to do. We have to make sure that our juvenile justice system remembers that kids are different; don’t just tag them as future criminals, reach out to them as future citizens”. On sentencing reform: “For nonviolent drug crimes, we need to lower long mandatory minimum sentences or get rid of them entirely. Give judges some discretion around nonviolent crimes so that potentially we can steer a young person who has made a mistake in a better direction... We need to ask prosecutors to use their discretion to seek the best punishment, the one that is going to be the most effective instead of just the longest punishment. We should invest in alternatives to prison, like drug courts and treatment and probation programs, which ultimately can save taxpayers thousands of dollars per defendant each year”. On prison reform: “Some criminals still deserve to go to jail. And as Republican senator John Cornynhas reminded us, virtually all of the people incarcerated in our prisons will eventually, someday, be released, and that’s why the third place we need reform is in the cellblock… While the people in our prisons have made some mistakes, and sometimes big mistakes, they are also Americans. And we have to make sure that as they do their time, and pay back their debt to society, that we are increasing the possibility that they can turn their lives around. … We should not tolerate conditions in prison that have no place in any civilized country. We should not be tolerating overcrowding in prison, we should not be tolerating gang activity in prison, we should not be tolerating rape in prison, and we shouldn’t be making jokes about it in our popular culture. That’s no joke. These things are unacceptable”. On solitary confinement: “I have asked my Attorney General to start a review of the overuse of solitary confinement across American prisons. The social science shows that an environment like that is often more likely to make inmates more alienated, more hostile, potentially more violent. Do we really think it makes sense to lock so many people alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day for months, sometimes for years at a time? That is not going to make us safer, that’s not going to make us stronger, and if those individuals are ever released, how are they ever going to adapt? Our prisons should be a place where we can train people for skills that can help people find a job, not train them to become more hardened criminals”. On job-training for inmates and opportunities for ex-offenders: “Some places are doing better than others. Montgomery County, Maryland, put a job-training center inside the prison walls to give folks a head start in thinking about “what might you do otherwise” than committing crimes. That’s a good idea. Here’s another good idea, one with bipartisan support in Congress: let’s reward prisoners with reduced sentences if they complete programs that make them less likely to commit a repeat offense. Let’s invest in innovative new approaches to link former prisoners with employers, help them stay on track”. “Let’s follow the growing number of our states and cities and private companies who have decided to ban the box on job applications so that former prisoners who have done their time and are now trying to get straight with society have a decent shot with a job interview. And if folks have served their time, and they have reentered society, they should be able to vote”. (Sources: nbcnews.com, Hands Off Cain, 16/07/2015)

O'MALLEY'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE PLAN: ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY, RECLASSIFY MARIJUANA
HANDS OFF CAIN 2015 REPORT
SAUDI ARABIA: PAKISTANI HEROIN SMUGGLER EXECUTED
PAKISTAN: FIVE MORE DEATH ROW PRISONERS EXECUTED IN LAHORE AND RAWALPINDI
ANALYSIS OF THE 2015 REPORT DATA AND OBJECTIVES OF HANDS OFF CAIN
INDIA: YAKUB MEMON EXECUTED FOR 1993 MUMBAI BOMBINGS
PAKISTAN: FOUR MORE DEATH ROW CONVICTS HANGED
PAKISTAN: EIGHT MORE MURDER CONVICTS HANGED
SAUDI ARABIA: PARDON BY VICTIM'S DAD SAVES KILLER
PAKISTAN: THREE MURDER CONVICTS HANGED
LIBYA: GADDAFI’S SON SENTENCED TO DEATH OVER WAR CRIMES
LIBYA: HANDS OFF CAIN, ALSO WE RESPONSIBLE FOR SAIF GADDAFI SENTENCE
SAUDI ARABIA: SECOND EXECUTION AFTER RAMADAN PAUSE
IRAN: FIVE PRISONERS HANGED
SAUDI ARABIA: FIRST EXECUTION AFTER RAMADAN PAUSE
TUNISIA: PARLIAMENT OKAYS DEATH PENALTY FOR 'TERROR CRIMES'
SYRIA: FAMED OPPONENTS SENTENCED TO DEATH
GAMBIA: PRESIDENT YAHYA JAMMEH GRANTS PARDONS BUT COUP PLOTTERS REMAIN ON DEATH ROW
TOBAGO: MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR THE MURDER OF HIS WIFE
INDIA: YAKUB MEMON FILES FRESH MERCY PLEA BEFORE PRESIDENT
IRAN: UP TO 12 PRISONERS EXECUTED
PAKISTAN: SUPREME COURT AGREES TO HEAR CHRISTIAN WOMAN'S BLASPHEMY APPEAL
PAKISTAN: DEATH SENTENCE OF ASIA BIBI STAYED
UAE IMPOSES HARSH PENALTIES FOR RELIGIOUS CRIMES
INDIA: TRIAL COURTS GIVE DEATH FREELY, BUT JUST 5% CONFIRMED
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: COURT SENTENCES LAVENTILLE MAN TO HANG OVER A 2006 MURDER
IRAN: LIVES OF TWO PRISONERS SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR MURDER SPARED BY PLAINTIFFS
BANGLADESH: SPECIAL COURT ORDERS NEW WAR CRIMES DEATH SENTENCE
MAURITANIA: COURT SLAMS DEATH SENTENCE TO TWO RAPISTS OF UNDER-AGED GIRL
INDIA: CONVICT HAMSA SENTENCED TO DEATH IN SAFIYA MURDER CASE

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