While visiting an Oklahoma federal prison, President Obama spoke to inmates about how their fate could have easily been his had he not had the support structure he did, reports Politico.
Obama’s Thursday visit to the prison is the first-ever by a sitting president. The rather candid remarks from the president came during a talk with a group of current prisoners. The roundtable took place in Cell Block B that is home to a special drug rehab program.
Many of the inmates are imprisoned as a result of the tough drug policies instituted during the 1990s following the “war on drugs” started by President Richard Nixon and continued by President Reagan in the 1980s. These laws that often harbor mandatory minimum sentences are often responsible for the rampant overcrowding that affects the American prison system.
Obama was quoted as saying, “when they describe their youth, these are young people who made mistakes that aren’t that different from the mistakes I made, and the mistakes that a lot of you guys made.”
In the past, Obama has been quite public about his adolescent days of smoking pot and there’s even a book detailing Obama’s marijuana usage. According to Obama, the six non-violent drug offenders who sat in front him “…did not have the kind of support structures, the second chances, the resources that would allow them to survive those mistakes.”
Within the past week, the president has made several comments on how he hopes to turn the tide on the hardline drug laws of the past.