The White House today announced President Obama will make his first visit as president to a federal prison for an upcoming Vice special on America’s criminal justice system. Obama will visit the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma next week, making him the first sitting American president to visit a federal prison.
The Vice special will air this fall on HBO, offering an “in-depth look into the dire impact the current criminal justice system is having on millions of Americans.” The United States is home to 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prison population; prison population has risen 700% since 1970, the program said, without citing its source.
Obama will tour the facility and meet with prisoners, staff and law enforcement officials. El Reno is a medium-security prison facility located in central Oklahoma, which houses 1,300 inmates convicted of violating federal law. The interviews will be part of a broader HBO documentary looking at America’s approach to crime and imprisonment.
Obama’s last-lap moves have been making a lot of headlines lately, including moves to normalize relations with Cuba, illuminating the White House in rainbow colors for the evening to celebrate the Supreme Court ruling that allows same-sex couples to marry nationwide, enlisting Keegan-Michael Key as his “anger translator” and ticking off his Rhymes With Bucket List during his most recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech.
In late June, Obama said criminal-justice reform would be a focus of his during the remainder of his presidency.
“I am really interested in the possibilities, the prospect of bipartisan legislation around the criminal justice system,” he told the press on June 30, adding he’s “seen some really interesting leadership from some unlikely Republican legislators very sincerely concerned about making progress there.”