Brooks was speaking on the sidelines of the civil rights group’s 106th Annual Convention.
"The president is taking some major risk here, he’s standing on the side of people that have been despised, people that have been dehumanized, people that have been locked away and cast out of society…" Brooks told reporters on Tuesday. "It’s a bold statement it’s a bold reform plan, but the president understands all too well, he cannot do this alone, Congress can’t do it alone, we have to stand with him."
On Tuesday, Obama outlined his administration’s plan to reform the criminal and juvenile justice system. The President called for mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes to be eliminated or reduced, urged states to do away with laws that prevent convicted felons from voting and called to have more job training programs for those in prison.
The US president also asked the Congress to pass sentencing reform bill by the end of the year, to invest rather in "alternatives" to prison.
"Our lives can’t really matter if we can be profiled at will, our lives don’t really matter if in fact we can be as a people, sentenced under draconian drug laws. Our lives, our life as a country matters less if you have 2.3 million people behind bars," Brooks said.
The announcement of Obama’s criminal justice policy reform comes at a time when the national spotlight has shifted to the issue of racial inequality amid several cases of police killings of unarmed African-American men. US grand juries have chosen not to indict the officers responsible for the high-profile deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson or Eric Garner in New York City.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Black Caucus, an organization representing the black members of the US Congress, is in the midst of putting together its own policy agenda geared at fixing the criminal justice system, its chair G.K. Butterfield announced on Monday at the NAACP Convention.