00:56 GMT26 October 2020
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    US President Barack Obama’s announcement of his vision for reforming the US criminal justice system is a step in the right direction toward better race relations in the country, members of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) told Sputnik on the sidelines of their 106th annual convention.

    PHILADELPHIA (Sputnik) – 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 ongoing police killings of unarmed black men. US grand juries, in a pattern consistently repeated throughout the country, failed to indict the officers responsible for the high-profile deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson or Eric Garner in New York City.

    "[Improving race relations] is not going to be a one day fix because it’s 2,000 something years of pain… so I think the step that he’s taking is the right step and I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome," said Teresa Hardy, Vice President for the Georgia branch of the oldest US civil rights group.

    When asked whether she was satisfied with Obama’s announcement, Hardy said, "you can never be satisfied, but I think that it is a step in the right direction of what we can accomplish."

    On Tuesday, Obama called for an overhaul of criminal and juvenile justice systems, including elimination or reduction the mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes. He urged US states to do away with laws that prevented convicted felons from voting and suggested more job training programs for those in prison.

    "I thought the whole speech was spot on, I thought he was on target and I’m happy to see now that there are other people who are involved in other parts of [the] political spectrum… who also recognize there’s a need for us to reform our criminal justice system," member of the NAACP’s New York branch Jim Norfleet said.

    The president asked the US Congress to pass a sentencing reform bill by the end of the year, as, by doing so, they would be making an investment in "alternatives" to prison.

    Seventeen-year-old William Green from the NAACP’s Tennessee branch told Sputnik that Obama’s plans, if implemented, would help not only his future, but also those of others.

    "I really think that he is going to try to make a change to everything that’s happening right now for everyone else to benefit in the long run," Green said.

    On Thursday, Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit a federal prison with a visit to the outside of Oklahoma City.

    Over the past year, Obama has launched several policy initiatives in the wake of renewed calls for increased education to counter racial bias. The initiatives include investing in police body-worn cameras for US law enforcement agencies around the country and a plan for addressing segregation in US neighborhoods.


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    police brutality, human rights, El Reno Federal Correctional Institution, National Association for Advancement of Colored People, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Barack Obama, New York City, US
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