President Obama just became the first sitting president to travel from the White House to the big house and visit a federal prison to make the case — one that seems to have some bipartisan agreement — that it’s time to take a hard look at the hard time the American justice system serves out to thousands of non-violent drug offenders, many (mostly Blacks and Hispanics) of whom are doing life in prison for crimes that, if committed today, wouldn’t result in nearly such a harsh sentence often served in dangerous, over-crowded jails which focus exclusively on punishment and do little to rehabilitate offenders or give them a shot to succeed if they do get out and make an attempt at a productive life. In other words, America has a run-on sentence problem even more obvious than the one you just read. The NYT on Obama’s prison visit and his message: “We should not tolerate conditions in prison that have no place in any civilized country. We should not be tolerating overcrowding in prison. We should not be tolerating gang activity in prison. We should not be tolerating rape in prison.”

+ Obama also called for released felons to be able to vote and for an end to excessive solitary confinement. In a speech to the NAACP, he sounded a personal note: “I see those young men on street corners, and eventually, in prisons. And I think to myself, they could be me. That the main difference between me and them is that I had a more forgiving environment, so that when I slipped up, when I made a mistake, I had a second chance, and they’ve got no margin for error.”