President Obama to Make Case on Drug Sentencing Laws, Gun Control, and 21st-Century Policing in Chicago

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla., in this July 16, 2015, file photo.
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla., in this July 16, 2015, file photo.

President Obama will make his case on Tuesday for an overhaul of the nation’s sentencing laws, telling a gathering of top law enforcement officials in Chicago that putting large numbers of nonviolent drug offenders in prison is neither fair nor an effective way of combating crime, White House officials said.

Seizing on a rare issue that has attracted support from conservatives and liberals in Washington, Mr. Obama is hoping to keep the pressure on Congress to produce legislation that would turn back parts of the tough-on-crime approach of the 1980s and ’90s.

“The president is convinced that if we continue to pursue these policy priorities in bipartisan fashion, that we’re much more likely to yield both a positive result, but also, most importantly, a result that can actually be signed into law,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Monday.

The president will address the International Association of Chiefs of Police in a city that has struggled in recent months with a sharp rise in murders and other violent crimes. That increase has come as a series of shootings of unarmed black men by officers across the country has contributed to increasing mistrust between African-Americans and the police.

White House officials said Mr. Obama would take note of the unusually high murder rate in Chicago, his hometown, by also renewing his call for gun control measures, though the president is not expected to announce any new proposals to limit gun purchases.

In the days after the deadly shooting at a community college in Oregon this month, Mr. Obama promised that officials in his administration would take a new look at what gun control measures were possible without the approval of Congress, which has been gridlocked on the issue. Officials said that review was continuing.

The president also plans to use the speech in Chicago to announce what officials are calling a guidebook to carrying out the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st-Century Policing. Mr. Obama set up that task force to confront the clashes between black communities and the police after episodes like the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in the summer of 2014.

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SOURCE: MICHAEL D. SHEAR 
The New York Times