President Barack Obama is finishing his term with a lengthy essay on criminal justice reform in the Harvard Law Review, arguing that Americans should recognize systemic racism in the system.
“[W]e cannot deny the legacy of racism that continues to drive inequality in how the justice system is experienced by so many Americans,” Obama wrote in his 56 page essay.
Obama cited studies from the NAACP showing that African-Americans and Hispanics were more likely to be stopped by law enforcement officials and suffer stricter penalties in court.
“If we are to chart honestly the path for criminal justice reform, we must confront the role of race and bias in shaping the policies that led us to this point,” Obama wrote.
Obama defended his decision to free 1,324 prisoners during his presidency, either through pardons or clemency.
“While not a substitute for the lasting change that can be achieved by passage of legislation, the clemency power represents an important and underutilized tool for advancing reform,” Obama explained.