The President’s Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform

Commentary by Barack Obama
Harvard Law Review

Former President Barack Obama has authored an article for the Harvard Law Review, detailing his personal commitment to justice reform, and providing an overview of his Administration’s efforts and accomplishments. He also shares his insights regarding the methods of influence at a President’s disposal, as well as reflections on areas where he feels his Administration’s work was left unfinished.

“Presidencies can exert substantial influence over the direction of the U.S. criminal justice system. Those privileged to serve as President and in senior roles in the executive branch have an obligation to use that influence to enhance the fairness and effectiveness of the justice system at all phases.”

Note that in Part III, Section F, “Highlighting Ways the Juvenile Justice System Falls Short”, President Obama specifically addresses youth justice, with an emphasis on school discipline policy, adultification, and the need to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Several other sections address youth and young adults as well, for example when he discusses the need to reduce and eliminate the use of solitary confinement.

Click here to read the full commentary.