President Obama calls for changes to the criminal justice system in a speech to the NAACP. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Obama is making a push to reform the U.S criminal justice system, a priority he has laid out for his final year and a half in office. Speaking at the NAACP annual convention in Philadelphia, Obama sought to assure people that he is aware of the problems. "I see what happens," he told the group. "My heart breaks when I see families who are impacted. I spend time with those families and feel their grief. I see those young men on street corners, and eventually in prisons, and I think to myself, 'they could be me.'" But he added, "We can't stop running the race. That's how you win the race. That's how you fix a broken system. That's how you change a country. The NAACP understands that. Think about the race that you have run. Think about the race ahead. If we keep taking steps toward a more perfect union and close the gaps between who we are and who we want to be, America will move forward." Obama has said reforming the complex U.S. criminal justice system to reduce the number of people serving long sentences for non-violent drug crimes is one of the top priorities for his remaining time in office. Next Thursday (July 23), Obama will make the first visit by a sitting president to a U.S. federal prison, the El Reno prison outside of Oklahoma City, the White House said. Obama says he hopes to work with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on criminal justice reforms. But so far legislative fixes have stalled in Congress. With only 5 percent of the world's population, the United States accounts for about 25 percent of the world's prison population, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.