By Casey Harper
President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit a federal prison Thursday.
Obama toured El Reno Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma and met with inmates and law enforcement, CNN reports.
“I think we have a tendency sometimes to almost take for granted or think it’s normal that so many young people end up in our criminal justice system,” Obama said after touring the facility. “It’s not normal. It’s not what happens in other countries. What is normal is teenagers doing stupid things.”
At the prison, Obama spoke about how he could have ended up behind bars because of his marijuana and cocaine use.
“There but for the grace of God,” Obama said. “And that is something we all have to think about.”
The tour comes during a week where the president has been pushing for criminal justice reform. He has made a series of speeches on the topic this week, and many insiders are saying a reform bill could be possible this year.
Interestingly, Obama chose to visit the prison where Detroit’s infamously corrupt former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is serving time.
“My goal is that we start seeing some improvements at the federal level and that we’re then able to see states across the country pick up the baton, and there are already some states that leading the way in both sentencing reform as well as prison reform and make sure that we’re seeing what works and build off that,” Obama said.
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