Obama will be First President to Visit a Federal Prison

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
El Reno federal prison (photo: Timothy A. Clary, AFP/Getty Images)

Sentencing reform has become a priority of President Barack Obama. Now, the same week that he commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders, Obama will visit a federal prison, the first president to do so.


Obama will travel Thursday to El Reno, a medium-security prison in Oklahoma. He’ll be accompanied by outgoing Bureau of Prisons chief Charles E. Samuels Jr.


Obama will use the visit to draw attention to his plan for changing federal sentencing laws, particularly those that have resulted in black and Hispanic defendants being sentenced to decades behind bars for nonviolent offenses. There’s also talk that he might work to restore voting rights to felons who have served their time, according to The Washington Post. “Well, I think this will certainly be something that’s discussed in the context of criminal-justice reform, and there is a strong argument that some have made about how once an individual has paid their debt to society, that those voting rights should be restored, and I know ... that there is bipartisan support for a policy like that,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.


While at the prison, Obama will give an interview with VICE for a documentary on the criminal justice system that will air this fall on HBO.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Obama to Visit Federal Prison in Oklahoma on Thursday (by Juliet Eilperin and Sari Horwitz, Washington Post)

Obama to Be First Sitting President to Visit Federal Prison (by Rebecca Nelson, National Journal)

Obama to Make First-Ever Presidential Visit to a Federal Prison for VICE Special (VICE News)


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