LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - President Obama became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison over in El Reno, Oklahoma Thursday. While there, he took time to push for criminal justice system reform.
The prisoners of the El Reno Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma had a visit much different from the ones they're used to.
"We have to consider whether this is the best way to both control crime and rehabilitate individuals," Obama said.
Obama was there today to push for reform within the criminal justice system which he says would benefit the entire nation.
"We have to reconsider whether twenty or thirty year sentences for non-violent crimes is the best way for us to solve these problems," Obama said.
"He's trying to adjust the federal sentencing guidelines for those people who are considered non-violent offenders," said Ryan Deaton, a Lufkin Defense Attorney.
Deaton says he agrees that non-violent crimes in our judicial system have gotten hefty sentencing.
"Being in possession of let's say crack or methamphetamines is punished very severely," Deaton said.
"Our drug laws are mandatory minimum sentencing around our drug laws," said Obama.
Texas alone has around 150 prisons and leads the country in incarceration rates.
"I do know that we have a lot of prisons in Texas and a lot of people in prison in Texas," Deaton said.
"When we're looking at non-violent offenders, most of them growing up in areas in which drug trafficking is common," Obama said.
Deaton adds that rehabilitation and reconsidering sentencing for non violent crimes would benefit tax payers, as well.
"If we will fix these people or a least give it a try, then we won't have to spend our tax money housing them," Deaton said.
"It's costing tax payers across America $80 billion a year," Obama said.
Deaton says he's defended many people who could have gotten on the right track with rehabilitation.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 48% of people in federal prisons are there for drug related charges something Deaton agrees could use some revision.
"We need to look at those cases and see if those sentencing guidelines are really appropriate," said Deaton.
Earlier this week, the president commuted the sentences of 46 low-level drug offenders.