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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  August 7, 2015 7:00pm-9:01pm EDT

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to meet her goal of getting 1,000 young people to own or run their own business. that's a sampling of the incredible projects that's being done by fellows all across africa. this program will help all of you make a real difference back home. but fatu from senegal, where is fa? fatu wrote me a letter and she said if the real value is for young people to learn from others, maybe we should start sending young americans to africa, also. [ applause ] and she made the point, not just to help poor communities as they usual do, but to learn from other societies with humility. which i thought is absolutely
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true. so i have good news from now on we will give americans an opportunity next summer up to 80 young american leaders will join -- [ applause ] up to 80 young american leaders will go there to africa to learn from you and your countries. you guys are going to have to look after them when they're there. you know, show them good places. but not have too much fun. they need to be doing some work while they're there. so these connections and partnerships and friendships, they forge an understanding that brings our peoples closer together. after six week period some of you are officially texas long horns or notre dame fighting
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irish. you've shared african cooking with your american friends and you've have a burger and hot dog at a fourth of july celebrations. i'm told many of you went bowling for the first time. i hear it didn't go that well. there were a few strikes. by the way, there was at least one marriage that came out last year's class. [ applause ] so who knows what might happen here. so as your time in america comes to a close, i want you to remember this is just the beginning. we just started this. and the truth is that our greatest challenges, whether it's inclusive development or confronting terrorism, dealing with conflict, climate change, increasing women's rights,
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children's rights, these are bigger than any one nation or one continent. our hope is is that ten, 15, 20 years from now when you've gone on to be ministers in government or leaders in business or pioneers of social change, that you'll still be connecting with each other that you'll still be learning from each other. and that together you'll be reaching back and helping the next generation. that you'll not only be making a difference in your own countries, but you'll be the foundation of a new generation of global leadership. a generation that will be working together across borders to make the world safer and prosperous and more just. that's my hope for you. we've brought you here because we benefit from your leadership. we're counting yoon you to work together to make sure you're
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reaching back to those who are going to be coming behind you. couldn't be prouder of you. with that, let me take some questions. all right. thank you very much. [ applause ] all right. i think you've been told how this works, but i'll repeat it. i'll call on as many as people as possible. when i call on you, introduce yourself. tell me what country you're from. make your question relatively short. so that we can get as many questions in as possible. and i am going to go boy girl, boy girl. to make sure that it's fair. all right? okay. so let me see who i'm going to start off with. this is such a good looking group. i'm going to start with this young lady here.
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right in the middle. yeah, there you go. with the african earrings, very popular. >> i'm from kenya. and my question is i'm curious how you keep the balance in terms of your background as an african-american and the kind of struggles you've had to get over to get here. and being married to michelle obama, she's awesome and amazing. as a father, as a husband. but you seem to not let that interfere with your work and you being effective. how do you keep the balance? >> first of all, i wouldn't be who i was without michelle. she's my partner. [ applause ]
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that's true poefrofessionally a in terms of my character and who i am. one of the things i'm very proud of is the fact that i married someone who is strong and talented and opinionated. and my equal. and part of the reason why that's so important to me is because she's the role model now for my daughters. and so malia and sasha, they have expectations of being strong and talented and being treated as an equal by their partners as they get older. much older. you know, the balance -- i've written about this. the balance isn't always
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perfect. i think one of the things that my generation but now even now your generation has to manage is if you have two people working in the house outside the home, how do you manage that in a way that we're both good parents, we're both able to succeed in our work, and what michelle and i found was that we had to recognize that at any given point in our careers, one person might sacrifice a little bit, maybe this was a time she had to focus on something so i had to cover for her more. there were times where i was able to do something and she had to handle things more. now, i'm not suggesting that
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it's been completely equal. i'm the first one to acknowledge that she's probably made more sacrifices given the nature of a political career i have. what i've learned from her is that if she doesn't feel respected and fulfilled, then i'm going to end up being less successful ultimately. that's something that i think that men in africa in particular, but men everywhere, but men in africa -- i've spoken about this a lot. you know, the best measure of how a country does economically in terms of development is how does it treat its women. [ applause ] as i said in a speech -- a
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couple of the speeches i gave while i was in kenya and ethiopia, if you're mistreating your women you're holding yourself back, holding yourself down. you may have some false sense of importance, but ultimately, you don't benefit if women are being discriminated against. because that means when you're working you will have less income. your children are typically to be less educated because the mother is the first educator of a child. if they see you disrespecting your wife, then what lesson is your -- not just your girls, but what lessons are your sons learning from you? and so this is something that i really think everybody especially the young generation of africa men have to learn. and internalize.
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and i want to see more men creating peer pressure among themselves. if you see a friend of yours, a classmate, one of your buddies, abusing a woman, you have to say something. you have to ostracize them and say that's not acceptable. you know, because ultimately, this is not just an issue of laws, although here in the united states we're still fighting for equal pay for equal work, we're fighting to make sure women have the same opportunities as men. it's also a matter of culture and what our expectations are. and your generation is going to have to change expectations. you do not lift yourself up by holding somebody else down. that's especially true within your own family and the people you're closest to. all right?
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[ applause ] that young man there in the striped shirt. yeah, you. >> thank you, mr. president. >> you have a little cheering section here. got the flags. >> mr. president, there is a big problem of climate change and the research has showed that africa would be the most accommodating to climate change. africa the continent which is responsible to climate change mitigation and is reducing greenhouse gases. i thought that africa was the last continent to get the funding for climate change mitigation. so my question is to ask you what can you the united states of america do to help africa to help with climate change.
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>> first of all, this generation has to understand that climate change is going to be one of the critical issues that you face. now, oftentimes you'll hear people say. well, environmental issues, climate change. we don't have time to worry about that right now because we have much more urgent issues, we have to educate our children. we have to feed people. we have to develop. maybe later we can worry about environmental issues. which i understand why a lot of african countries, and you know, poorer countries in asia or latin america or other places would say that. historically that's basically that's what united states and develops countries do. the united states used to be terribly polluted. if you went to los angeles, you couldn't -- it was like beijing is now. it was very hard to breathe if you ran outside. you had lake and rivers that
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were so polluted one of them caught fire. i'm serious, that's some pollution there. the same is true in london when london was first developing. during the industrial revolution because of all the coal that was being burned and the soot. here's the problem, whether it's fair or not, the issue of climate change is not like traditional environmental issues in the sense it's just isolated in one area. global climate change will affect everybody. and because the changes could be severe, frankly the countries that are most likely to be adversely affected are the poorer countries. because they have less margin for error. if you have changing weather
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patterns in, let's say, the indian subcontinent and the monsoon rains shift, suddenly you could have millions of people whose crops completely fail. the same is true in africa if rain patterns and drought starts changing. subsistence farmers are completely vulnerable. if you are in coastal communities and the oceans begin the rise, millions could be displaced. this is something that everybody is going to have to take seriously. what we're going to be doing is here in the united states, we are initiating some of the most aggressive action to start reducing the emission of carbon that produces climate change. there's going to be a paris conference later this year in which we're organizing china and other countries that are big carbon emitters to participate
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and set targets for reduction of carbon pollution. now, africa per capita doesn't produce that much carbon. so some africa countries have said why do we have to do anything? the answer is that you have to project where you're going to be 20 years from now or 30 years from now. if you get locked in now from the way you produce energy that's producing a lot of carbon, given the youth of africa and its rising population, you could end up being the major carbon emitter if you don't take plans now. what we're saying is, learn from our mistakes and find new sustainable ways of generating energy that don't produce carbon. when i was in nairobi, i highlighted the work we're doing with something called power africa. which has generated billions of
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dollars with the goal of electraification throughout subsaharan africa. part of what we're trying to encourage countries to do is don't automatically take the old models, think about new models of energy production and leapfrog. with solar energy, we were looking at solar panels that you could send into rural areas, put on the roof of a hut. for the same price per day that people are using -- purchasing kerosene, they can have a small solar panel and pack that generates light and provides what they need. in fact, it will pay for itself in a year and they'll save money after that. so in the same way that you've seen banking and financial
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transactions off smartphones, cell phones, leapfrogging some of the old ways of doing business in advanced countries. the same has to be true for energy. we want to encourage new models. we are going to be providing the united states another wealthier countries are going to be providing billions of dollars in money for adaptation and mitigation. what's more urgent is how can we create the growth and development in a way that does not make the problem worse but makes the problem better. all right? okay. [ applause ] this young lady right here. got the mic coming. >> hello -- >> speak up just a little bit. >> my name is amel.
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i'm from mauritania and i'm 23 years old. you as a u.s. citizen, will you after leaving the white house keep us this program? because we still need it. >> it is a simple question. and i've got a simple answer. yes. here's what we're going to try to do. we want to institutionalize the program so that the next president and future presidents and the u.s. government continue to sustain the program. but -- so that's going to be important. [ applause ] since i still have this job for the next 18 months i haven't been completely focused on what i'm going to do afterwards. the first thing i'm going to do is catch up on my sleep.
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i'll do that for a couple months. and but i can guarantee you one of the things i'm interested in doing when i leave office is to continue to create these platforms for young leadership across the globe to network, get relationships, to work together, to learn with each other. and, by the way, it's not just in africa. we've set up a young leader's program in asia. we're doing the same thing in latin america. because the goal is, eventually i want not only for there to be a network of thousands of young african leaders who know each other across borders, sharing best practices, ideas, i also want you to know leaders in indonesia or young leaders in,
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chile or young leaders around the globe. ultimately you'll be global leaders, not just leaders in your own country. it begins in your own countries where you can make your mark. but one of the powerful things about technology and the internet now is you can learn and forge relationships and learn best practices from every place. so if you're an advocate for women's rights and you're doing great work in nigeria, it may be that somebody in burma can, on the internet, see how you organize your campaign and how you were able to finance it and what you were able to accomplish. and suddenly what you've done in one country becomes a model for action all across the world. so this is going to be a top
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priority. i will definitely continue to be involved in that. all right? let's see. got a -- got to call on man now. let's see. let's see. i'm going to call on this guy right there. no. no. yeah. you right there. just because i like that hat. that's a sharp looking hat right there. >> my name is sabir. i come from madagascar. >> there you go. >> i am involved in environmental apprenticeship. what is the commitment of the united states to our young entrepreneurship in climate change? >> as i said before, we are pledging -- we've got a billion
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dollars for entrepreneurship, half of it we are going to direct towards women entrepreneurs and young people who are entrepreneurs because they've been underrepresented in terms of access to capital. and as i mentioned to the young man earlier, the opportunities for entrepreneurship related to clean energy, related to conservation, which oftentimes in a place like madagascar involves tourism and eco tourism. there's huge potential if it's done properly. the key is in some cases just the access to financing, but part of what you've learned hopefully, part of it is also having a well-thought out plan. not everybody can afford to go to a fancy business school and, you know, graduate and have all
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the credentials. that doesn't mean you don't have a good idea. and one of the things we're trying to do, particularly through online learning, is to create some of the basic concepts for how a business or a non-profit can get started and how can can be properly managed. how you can do the accounting in a way that's efficient. we want to make sure that we are a continuing partner for you as you start your business and you learn. this is where these regional networks we're setting up is also useful. not only will we have online learning, but these regional hubs initially in four regions of africa allow you to network and access through the u.s. embassy or the chambers of commerce or private sector participants who are partnering with us. so you can have hands on
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mentoring as you're moving forward. the one thing -- for those of you who are entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneur to remember all around the world, even in the united states, you know, not every idea succeeds. if you want to be an entrepreneur and start a business, you have to believe with all your heart that you're going to succeed. but then when and if one of the businesses fails, you got to be able to get up, dust yourself off, start -- figure out what you learned and then start another business. eventually, it's from continually refining your ideas and exploring what works and understanding what your market is and what consumers are looking for that eventually you have a chance to succeed. all right?
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okay. a young woman's turn now. she's just dancing over here. so we'll have to call on her. that doesn't mean, by the way, everybody should dance. i just wanted to point that out. go ahead. >> mr. president, thank you. my name is madeleine from camaroon i would like to find out if you will support africa's permancy at the un security council, thank you. >> so the security council was formed after world war ii and the world and the balance power around the world was very different in 1945, '46, '47 than it does in 2015, 2016 and '17.
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the united states is supportive in concept of modifications to the structure of the united nations security council. i will be honest with you how that happens and how you balance all the equities, is complicated. as a matter of principle, i would think that there should at least be one representative from the african continent on the secure council. along with representatives from the other regions of the world. and some of the other powers that have emerged. i will tell you that -- because, for example, latin america does not have a country that's represented. it does get complicated because you have to figure out how -- let me put it this way.
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everybody probably thinks they should be on it. and so even in africa, if you started saying, okay, let's say we should have an african. is it south africa, is it nigeria, see. everybody was thinking,
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effectiveereffective it has to be more representative of all the various trend lines that have occurred over the last several decades. one thing i will say, though, about the united nations everybody wants a seat at the table but sometimes people don't want the responsibilities of having a seat at the table. and that's happening even now. and the one thing i've learned, both in my personal life and in my political life, is that if you want more authority, then you also have to be more responsible. you can't wear the crown if you can't bear the cross.
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and oftentimes in the united nations, which i'm very committed to and the agencies there do a lot of critical important work. when it comes to who is going to actually step up and contribute to peace-keeping, who is going to actually write a check when it comes to making sure that we're dealing with the ebola crisis? who's going to show leadership in tackling climate change? are you willing to speak out on issues even when it contradicts your own interest? or when it's politically hard? or when it's uncomfortable? if you're not willing to do those things, you know, this is not just something where, okay, i got a membership key to the club and now i'm just going to, you know, show off how important i am.
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and that -- you know, you see that sometimes. this happens -- and sometimes it happens in our own agencies. you know, the -- on human rights, when i was in kenya, i said that it's not enough for the united states always to be the heavy who has to point out that it's unsuitable for leaders to ignore their constitution and try to cling on to power. their neighbors have to speak up as well. even if it's uncomfortable. right? but so my attitude is if you want to -- [ applause ] you want to participate you have to recognize you have broader responsibilities. that's something the united states, by the way, you know, for all our occasional mistakes or flaws or, you know, policy's
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not perfect all the time. the one thing we do try to be is responsible. if there's a earthquake or tornado somewhere or hurricane somewhere, we're there. we're stepping up. when ebola happened, we stepped up. even when other people were looking around and trying to figure out, i know, what should we do. that is part of leadership. that's true for you individually as well. you have to be willing to take some risks and do some hard things in order to be a leader. a leader is not just a name, a title, and, you know, privileges and perks. so, all right? let's see. it's a gentleman's turn, isn't it? this guy looks sharp right here
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in the corner. i mean, that's a serious looking coat. huh? look at that. [ applause ] that's a good looking coat. don't worry, i'll call on somebody who's just wearing a suit at some point. >> thank you, mr. president. i'm franklin from camaroon. we are very grateful for the american leadership in our fight against violent extremism and the military response. my question is what kind of engagement and support we can expect from you in building resilient communities especially along the sahara where we are grappling with those issues? >> this is something that's very important. look, the sources of violence around the world are multiple.
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and it's important for us to recognize that sadly, the human race has found excuses to kill each other for all sorts of reasons. in the continent of africa, oftentimes it's been along ethnic and tribal lines. it has nothing to do with religion it has to do with you speak a slightly different language than me or you look just a little bit different. in northern ireland, it was religious. in other places, it just has to do with trying to gain power or majority group trying to impose its will on a minority group. so there are all kinds of reasons for violence. but one of the phenomenon we are now seeing is a very specific
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promotion of violent extremism that oftentimes is twisting and distorting and i think ultimately defying the edicts of one of the world's greatest religions, islam. it's being exported and turbo charged throughout social media and groups like al shabaab and isil and boko haram. the question is, how do we fight back against those idealogies? in a way that allows us still to be true to the values of peace and tolerance and due process and rule of law. so the united states is, obviously, committed to this fight against terrorism. and we are working with
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countries and partnering with countries all around the world to go after whether it's al qaeda, boko haram, but what we've also said is in order to defeat these extremist ideologies, it can't just be military police and security. it has to be reaching into countries that feel marginalized and making sure the young people in those communities have opportunity. that's why it's so important to partner with civil society organizations in countries throughout africa and around the world. who can reach young people before isil reaches them. before al shabaab reaches them. and inoculate them from the
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notion that somehow the solution to their alienation or the source of future opportunity for them is to go kill people. and that's why when i was in kenya, for example, and i did a town hall meeting there, i emphasized what i had said to president kenuata, be a partner with the civil society groups. too often there's a tendency -- because what the extremist groups want to do is divide. that's what terrorism is all about. the notion is that you scare societies, further pollerizes them. the government reacts by further discriminating against a particular group. that group then feels it has no political outlet peacefully to deal with their grievances.
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and that then -- that suppression can oftentimes accelerate. even more extremism. that's why reaching out to civil society groups, clergy, and listening and asking, okay, what is it that we need to do in order to make sure that young people feel that they can succeed? what is it that we need to do to make sure that they feel they're fully a part of this country and are full citizens and have full rights? how do we do that? bringing them in to plan and design messages and campaigns. that embrace the diversity of these countries. those are the things that are so important to do. we still have to gain intelligence and engage in effective military and police
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campaigns to eradicate those who so brainwashed that all you can do is incapacitate them. but the question is, constantly, how do we make sure that the recruitment of young people into these terrorist organizations, how do we cut off that flow? that requires more than just military efforts. okay? all right. this young lady right here. yeah. right here in the green and red. yeah, you. no. no. right here. go ahead. no. no. right here. right here in front. yes. you. yes. go ahead. >> thank you, mr. president. my name is jen i'm from kenya. i'm speaking on behalf of my
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brothers and sisters in africa. as you know, thousands are being killed in africa for ritual purposes. my issue is to raise this to the heads of state. for the benefit of our brothers and sisters back in africa. thank you. >> good. thank you. thank you. well, can i just say, you know, the notion that any african would discriminate against somebody because of the color of their skin after what black
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people around the world have gone through, is crazy. it is infuriating. [ applause ] and i have no patience for it. when i was in africa, i said you know, there are important traditions and folk ways that need to be respected. that's part of each culture is, each country is. but there's also just foolish traditions. and old ways of doing business that are based in ignorance and they need to stop. and the idea that you'd have --
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a society would visit violence on people because of pigmentation, that is not a tradition. that is worth preserving. that's tomfoolery. that's craziness. it's cruel. the same is true with practices like gentital mute yalgz. you don't do violence to young girls just because your great grandfather -- because there's no reason for it other than to suppress women. that's the rationale of it. that's what it's based on. bride abduction, bad tradition.
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end it. beating women. not a good tradition. i don't care that used to be how things were done. [ applause ] societies evolve. based on new understandings and new science and new appreciation of who we are. and so we can preserve great traditions. music, food, dance, language, art. but if there's a tradition anywhere in africa or here in the united states or anywhere in the world that involves treating people differently because you're scared of them or because you're ignorant about them or
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because you want to feel superior to them, it's a bad tradition. you have to challenge it. you can't accept excuses for it. you know, grace was up here. you heard. the power of grace's talking. now, traditionally, people with disabilities are treated differently because people are ignorant. here in the united states we passed the americans against disabilities act and that opened up more opportunities. and suddenly there are ramps so people can access it and computers and technologies so that people who maybe couldn't communicate before can communicate. it turns out there's this talent and brilliance and people can do these things. well, then people's attitudes have to change. and the societies have to change. and that's why young people are
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so important in changing attitudes. the same, by the way, is true for sexual orientation. i spoke about this in africa. you know, everybody's like, oh, we don't want to hear that. the truth of the matter is is that if you're treating people differently because of who they love and who they are, then there's a connection between that mindset and the mindset that leads to racism and ethnic conflict. it means you're not able to see somebody else as a human being. and so you can't on the one hand complain when somebody else does
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that to you and you're doing it to somebody else. you can't do it. there's got to be some consistency to how you think about these issues. and that's going to be up to young people. old people get stuck in their ways. they do. they do. and that's true here in the united states. the truth of the matter is is that when i started running for president everybody said, a black guy named barack obama, he's not going to win the presidency of the united states. but what i was banking on was the fact that with all the problems that still exist in the united states around racial attitudes, things had changed and young people and new generations had suddenly understood that in dr. king's word, yet to be judged not by the color of your skin but by
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the contents of your character. that doesn't mean everything suddenly is perfect. it just means that young people, you can lead the way and set a good example. it requires some courage because the old thinking, people will push back at you. if you don't have the conviction and courage to be able eto stan up for what you think is right, cruelty will perpetuate itself. you are on the spot. if there is one thing i want you to come out with, is you are strong by taking care of the people that are vulnerable. by looking after the minority. looking after the disabled. looking after the vulnerable. you're not strong by putting people down. you're strong by lifting them up. all right. that's the measure of a leader.
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all right. how much time we got? i've only got time for one more question. first of all, the women, you got to put your hands down. i just answered the women's. it's got to be a guy. and i promise that i'll ask a guy in a suit. i'll ask this guy right here. all right. look, he's all buttoned up, he looks very sharp. >> thank you, mr. president. my name is elisha from nigeria. thank you. i want to say we appreciate all the great work that the united states is doing with nigeria. many of the african countries,
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especially as it concerns infrastructure and development and policies and all of those. i'm of the opinion that if we don't make investments in education more than any other sector of the economy, we are not building sustainable partnerships. [ applause ] i'm saying that with respect to the fact that we are following the dream that africa is experiencing. due to the fact that the grass is greener on this side and then the united states have so many intellectuals. for example, recently, when you were in kenya, you launched a project around power and energy. i'm of the opinion that if that program is going to be successful and sustainable, then all of those programs should include the partnership of universities. because through that we can view the capacity of universities and those countries can go around in
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other african countries replicating that. in that case we can control the dream that is moving from africa to the west or to any other part of the country. i want to ask, what is the united states doing to control these intellectual dreams to the western world? what are you doing to increase more than investment in education so our partnership and development can be truly sustainable. thank you. [ applause ] >> that was good. that was an excellent question. it is an excellent question. but i'm going to reverse the question a little bit. the question is not what is the united states doing to reverse the brain drain. the question is what are your countries doing to reverse the brain drain. [ applause ] have friends
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who study overseas. they study in the west. and then they decide to stay. instead of going back home. the united states we are partnering with every country here. i guarantee you there are programs to invest in education in your country. there are programs to work with the universities in your countries. i think you make a an excellent point that on big projects like power africa we should make sure there is a capacity building component. and in fact, one of the things that's been done with our development, assistance we're providing, is to emphasize capacity building. so, for example, our feed the
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future program, the goal is not to just keep on sending food forever. the goal is teaching farmers to double or triple or quadruple their yields which then gives them more income, which then allows them to buy maybe a tractor or to start a cooperative food processing plant that then accesses the market and the money gets reinvested. and now you're building jobs and commerce inside the country as opposed to just judge being an age recipient. i'm all about capacity building. but ultimately why is it that you have so many talented, well educated, young africans leaving instead of staying? why is it that you have so many talented, well educated, deem
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from the middle east or parts of asia or latin america who would rather live here than there? the issue is not just that these are wealthy -- we're a wealthier country. i think it's fair to say, and you know better than i do, but part of it has to do with a young person's assessment of can i succeed in applying my talents if, for example, the economy is still built on corruption so that i have to pay a bribe or be well connected in order to start my business. [ applause ]. or are there still ethnic rivalries in the country, which means if i'm from the wrong tribe i'm less likely to advance.
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or is there still so much sexism in the country that if i'm a woman then i'm expected just to be at home and be quiet. when i'm a trained doctor. or is there a lack of rule of law or basic human rights and freedoms that make me feel as if i am respected in what i can do? i make this point to say that some of the brain drain is is economic. but some of it has to do with people's assessments of if i stay in my country, am i going to have the ability to succeed. and that's why when i talk to leaders in africa or anywhere around the world, i say, look, if you put together the basics
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of rule of law and due process and democracy, and you're able to keep peace so there's not conflict and constant danger, and the government is not corrupt, then even a poor country, you're going to attract a lot of people who will want to live there because they feel like they're part of building something and are contributing something. because the one thing i've discovered is right now i live in a big house but it's a lease. i have to give it up in 18 months. a big house is nice for the first month. it's like, wow, this is a really big house. after two months you realize, i can't live in all of these rooms. my life is not appreciatedly
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better once i have the basics. and i think a lot of young africans would be much more interested in staying even if they don't have as big of a house. or the shopping malls aren't as big. or if they felt as if the basics are taken care of, i can keep my family safe, i can practice my profession, i'm not going to be discriminated against, the government is well meaning and well intentioned and is not corrupt. and public investments are being made. then people i think would have a sense of meaning in their lives. that doesn't mean there aren't going to be some people who would still rather live in london or new york because they think they can make more money. but i think that, as much as anything we do, will reverse the brain drain. and that's why what you do is so important. if you set a good example of going back and rebuilding your
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country and if you as young leaders are creating an environment in which young people can succeed and you're setting a new set of expectations about how exciting it is to be part of something new, that can help turn the tide. so good luck. [ applause ]. all right. thank you, everybody. [ applause ]. ♪ ♪
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on the next washington journal, real clear politics reporter rebecca berg discusses the gop. and hans von spakovsky and nicole austin-hillery discuss whether the voting rights act is still needed. live saturday 7:00 a.m. on c-span. this weekend on the c-span networks, politics, books, and american history. saturday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span, congressional profiles with four freshman members. pennsylvania democrat, louisiana republican, brendan lawrence, and new jersey republican tom
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mcarthur. sunday at 9:00, with elections coming in october, we'll show you a debate among the four leaders in canada. on c-span2 saturday night at 10:00 eastern on book tv's after words. through the use of technology we can reign in the power of the federal government. and sunday evening at 7:00, susan souther talks about the people of nagasaki, january pa from the moment it was bombed in 1945 until today. auto c-span3 we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki. a conversation with president harry truman's grandson, clifton truman daniel. and we'll visit the atomic bomb exhibit with the director of nuclear studies, peter kuznik. and our coverage continues with
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the 2000 documentary on the making of the atomic bomb. and later, interviews with two bomb survivors. get our complete schedule at sunday night on on q&a. former emergency manager of detroit kevin orr talks about detroit's financial issues and overseeing the largest municipal bankruptcy in u.s. history >> in detroit had taken that $1.5 billion in 2005 and 2006 when the stock market went down to 6,500 and if it had just invested in index fund, dow jones, standard & poor's, it is now trading 18,000, almost three times what it was. they not only would have tripled their money, they could have paid the pensions in full and declared the 13th check. it used to be a practice of giving the pensioners an
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additional check in addition to the 12 they're due. if you have some strong leadership and some focus leadership you can resolve these problems. but it takes a lot of effort. >> sunday night on c-span's q&a. here on c-span3 tonight a hearing on challenges facing the federal prison system. and then a discussion on mexico's political and economic future. and later, the senate foreign relations committee on the latest report on human trafficking. the senate homeland security and governmental affairs hearing held a hearing on prison system, the handling of inmates who show signs of mental illness.
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piper kermit's was developed into the orange is the new block. it is 2 hours, 40 minutes. good morning. this hearing will come to order. let me just say i'm really looking forward to this one. i was telling the witnesses, i have read all the testimony. and i generally do that as best of my ability. sometimes the testimony before this committee can be a little dry. and as i'm reading late at night it will put me to sleep. not so in this case whatsoever.
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i think the testimony was fascinating partly because i am somewhat new to this issue. i'm going to keep my opening statements somewhat brief because i know senator booker would like to make a statement. i'm pretty data driven. the data, statistics on this particular problem, the bureau of prisons and our high levels of incarceration rates are pretty stark. in 1980, for example, there were 25,000 people in the federal prison system. today there is 209,000. that's 736% increase. our population only increased 40%. in total, back in 1980, about 500,000 people in prison. today there's 2.3 million.
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we in america have the highest level of incarceration in the world. 716 people per 100,000 population. the next closest was rwanda with 492. i guess my primary comment is when you look at those stark statistics and you see -- by the way, i appreciate jerome dealer is here from madison, wisconsin. met with him earlier as part of a group called the nehemiah project. a group of individuals, some of them ex-offenders trying to help other people reenter society. i remember during that meeting -- how many times did i wince. i was told how unbelievable we make former offenders to make
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reenter societiment the purpose of the hearing is to lay out these realities. understand what the prison is dealing with is an incredible difficult and complex problem. by the way, the testimony by charles samuels, the current director is also a problem. let me just read from his testimony. the deul fold mission is to protect society by confining offenders in community based facilities that are cost efficient and appropriately secure. and to ensure offenders are actively participating in programs that will assist them in becoming law abiding citizens when they return to our communities. that's a tough task. i was looking at the statistics and saying, boy, we're really nailing that one. we really have this problem solved. we're a long way from it. the testimony would be in the
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federal system we have only a 41% recidivism rate. state and local it's over 60%. i guess we can look at that and maybe we're doing something better on the federal level than state and local. boy, that's a long way from a successful result. i'm sure you'll agree with me on that. and i'm not going to steal ms. kermin's thunder. in the end, i want everyone paying close attention to the quote she will make from thomas mott-osbourne because i think it lays out what's at issue and exactly the question we should be asking as a civilized society. with that, i will turn it over to senator tom harper. >> thanks, mr. chairman. thank you for encouraging us to hold this important hearing. we want to thank all of you for coming as witnesses. my day job before i came here was i was privileged to be governor of delaware for eight
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years. in delaware we don't have sheriff jails, county jails or city jails. we have a state correctional system. we have one for adults and we have one for juveniles. my second term as governor, mcavi came to delaware. he was at the time the nation's drug czar. because we were doing pretty good job in terms of reducing recidivism by half, about 75% to maybe 40%. he wanted to find out how we were doing it. he brought with him an abc camera crew with him as well. i'll never forget before he actually went into the prison and looked at the program to see how it worked, we met with about 50 inmates. and we got in a room much smaller than this room. and they all had their white garb, the general and myself.
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i had been to middle schools, churches, ball games. i had an idea of who some of them were. they knew who i was. i said to the guys before we got started on the program part of the tour. i said to these 50. most of them, i don't know, 19, 20, 21, 22 years old. i said, how did you end up getting here? what happened in your lives or didn't happen in your lives that got you here. about five or six stood up and they all told stories that were very similar. very similar. i was born before -- i was born when my mom was young. i never knew my dad. i ended up in kindergarten. other kids could read. they knew their letters. they knew their numbers. i couldn't. i got into first grade. and i started falling behind.
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in the second grade, third grade, fourth grade falling further behind. about the fourth grade i said i realize if i just acted up in class and be a real nuisance the teacher would stop calling on me. and so he put his head down, stayed out of trouble. and he said eventually, though, i would be put out in the hall. by the fifth or sixth grade. finally, when i was in the seventh or eighth grade i was suspended from school. for a while he said i liked that because i was no longer embarrassed by how little i knew. and he said when i was in ninth grade i got expelled. i found myself on the outside. everybody wants to be popular. if you're a good athlete, you can be popular in school f. you're smart you can be popular in school. if you're good with girls, you can be popular in school. he said i was none of those. he said the only way i could
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feel good about myself was to take drugs or to consume alcohol. when i did that, i felt good about myself. he said i didn't have any ability to pay for those things. i ended up in the life of crime. and i ended up in this place. everyone told the same story. same story. and the commissioner of corrections for me at the time, dante lore, wonderful guy. wonderful guy. he used to say to me, we can -- 95%, 98% of the people that are incarcerated in our state will be released back into our society. and we can send them back out into society as better people, better parents, or better criminals. and he said it's our choice. it's our choice. it's a choice for the inmate themselves. we're big on new causes in this community. i'm big on new causes in this community. if we take young men, young
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women, not so young men and women and actually do something about their addictions while they're incarcerated, that's helpful. if we do something about the lack of education, that's helpful. the work skills, to get up in the morning and have a job to go to, that's helpful. all the above. all the above. we can learn a lot from the state. we can learn a lot from one another. today we're going to learn from you. and we look forward to this very much. i want to thank you for suggesting that we be here. let's have a good hearing. thank you. >> thanks, senator carper. under my written opening statement of the record w. that, senator booker. >> i want to start by expressing my gratitude to the ranking member and the chairman for having this hearing. it has been probably the best experience i've had in the united states senate since i began about 18, 19 months ago to find such bipartisan willingness to deal with issues of justice
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in our country. it's extraordinary from my hour meeting with chairman grassly yesterday to be able to sit with you today, chairmen, to see this bipartisan willingness to confront the wrongs in our country that surround criminal justice and determination to do something about it. >> let me just interject before you go on. we talked about this earlier. i was going to do a field hearing on high levels of incarceration. we didn't do it on that subject because this is so complex. and it was difficult to design the hearing so it wouldn't be inflammatory. >> yes. >> so, again, i appreciate you working with me so we hold this first one here. again, this will be the first in a series. >> yes. >> we held a hearing on school choice, which starts really at the beginning part of this time spectrum in terms of not providing a proper education. and it ends up leading to this result in terms of prison. but, again, i appreciate your willingness to work with me on
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this. i'm hoping at some point in time we can move this discussion into different areas. this is pretty relevant. one of them certainly would be in milwaukee. >> i'm grateful to you. we had countless conversations now about criminal justice reform. and your eagerness, willingness, sincere desire to do something about it has been really encouraging to me in my early months in the senate. i'm thankful for that and this opportunity to be here today. it is a movement now in our country to do something about it. we have the president of the united states willing to visit a prison, being the first person to do so. we see that is a part of our culture. as a christian, it says in the bible matthew 25, when i was hungry you gave me something to eat. when i was thirsty you gave me something to drink. when i was in prison, you came to visit me. the understanding that our criminal justice system is not about fear and retribution guided by principles of justice, fairness and ultimately
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redemption. to me that is the american way. but unfortunately we have gone in the way that is so far cuts against our common values and our ideals. this age of mass incarceration on a whole is violating our core principles in so many areas. to have us as we proclaim to be the land of freedom and liberty. but to have one every four imprisoned people here in the united states of america even though we have 4% to 5% of our population runs contrary to our core ideals. to do this at such a massive expense to the tax payer in necessarily egregious expenditures where we spend a quarter trillion dollars a year incarcerating human beings, many of whom do not need to be incarcerated at the lengths they are runs against our values. when we see our infrastructure crumbling in this country, yet we have the resources between 1990 and 2005 to build a new
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prison in the united states every 10 days. it runs against our fiscal prudence and our values as a nation. when we see poor people being ground up into a system but for the fact that they don't have the resources for the liberation that we have a modern day debtors prison in our country that runs contrary to our common values. we now are at a point in our country where we have literally almost one out of three americans between 75 and 100 million americans have an arrest record. if we were to go back to revolutionary times and tell them there would be a government in this land seizing the liberty of almost one in three people, we would have definitely sparked that revolutionary spirit. now is the time we need a revolution when it comes to issues of crime and punishment. now, the chairman was very clear, and i think it's important to restate, this is a narrow hearing about one specific aspect to begin a process of looking for reforms.
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please know if you look at just our bureau of prisons, our federal prison population has expanded 800% since 1980. the bureau of prisons now has 200,000 inmates and it is 35% to 40% over in capacity. employs nearly 40 how people. and last year in fiscal 2014 the bureau of prisons enacted budget totaled an astonishing $6.9 billion. just working on transportation and commuter rail seeing the fraction of that we're debating over when we're spending this much. this bureau of prisons is now 25% of the department of justice discretionary budget. in my very first meeting with attorney general holder he actually talked about the urgent crisis he faces, taking money away from things we should be invest anything for homeland security for our protection overall as a citizen because of
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this massive explosion. the bureau of prisons is so large it is absolutely critical that we in congress, this committee, exercise our oversight to ensure tax payer dollars are spent wisely especially in light of what many states are showing, that you can reduce your prison populations dramatically, saving taxpayer dollars and lowering crime at the same time. so make no mistake. i as a mayor learn you have to make sure when a crime is committed there is a punishment. and people get a proportional punishment. they just do not make in any way economic sense as well. so i'm grateful for this hearing. there are some areas i think we really need to drill down that are in the small areas we can make improvements in that can make a big difference. one is solitary confinement. segmented housing units is a
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practice that many people, medical professionals, human rights activists, civil rights activists consider torture pause of its impact. to use it on an inmate results in serious psychological harm. the constitution ality was questioned saying it will bring you to the edge of madness, perhaps madness itself. the medical community confirms that reality. it is time that the federal government were acts a model to ending this practice of solitary confinement. congress gave the courts the authority to release prisoners early for extraordinary compelling reasons. known as compassionate release. the bureau of prisons has the ability to release prisoners now that are facing imminent death or serious incapacitation. the data is clear on this population. they are not a threat to our safety and community. they are costing tax payers
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extraordinary amounts of money. this is a compassionate release program that is properly named and should be explored. attorney general holder issued guidelines to allow the bureau of prisons to expand the pool of applicants who may be considered for compassionate release. this is something we should look at. finally, i hope we can explore what the bureau of prisons provides to those that are the least of these and our society. those that are often marginalized. i'm specifically talk building those suffering from mental health challenges and drug addictions. right now states across america are struggling to control a growing heroin epidemic. many people are finding themselves addicted in a federal system that does not adequately treat them. the bureau of prisons must find a way to assist inmates struggling with addiction and mental health. again, i want to thank you, chairman. this is a hearing i have been very excited about. i want to thank our witnesses. i especially want to thank
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charles samuels who met with me personally. i have had great conversations with. his tenure is actually coming to an end. but he is a dedicated public servant. >> thanks. we all want to thank the witnesses and welcome them. it is is the tradition to swearing witnesses. if you all rise and will raise your right hand. do you swear the testimony you will give before this committee will be the truth, the whole treating and nothing but the truth so help you god. >> i do. >> thank you. please be seated. our first welcome is ms. piper-kermin, author of orange is the new black. she is a board member of the women's prison association. >> mr. chairman, ranking member,
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and members of the committee, i appreciate you inviting me here today. in my memoir i account in detail the 13 months i spent incarcerated in the federal prison sentence with most of my time served at the federal institution in danbury, connecticut. i have worked with many women and men who are returned citizens like me. and we all want to get back on our feet, to reclaim our rights of citizenship and to make positive contributions to our communities. our experiences are essential to understanding the reform that's needed in our criminal justice system so it will provide for public safety in a way that is legal and humane and sensible. and that's why i'm here today. women are the fastest growing population in the american criminal justice system. and their families and communities are increasingly affected by what happens to women behind bars.
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according to the bureau of justice statistics, 63% of women in prison are there for a nonviolent offense. many are incarcerated due to substance abuse and mental health issues which are overwhelmingly prevalent in prisons and jails. and the rate of sexual abuse and other physical violence that women experienced prior to incarceration is staggering. female prisoners suffer these problems at greater rates than male prisoners. and these experiences are relevant both to their crimes and to their incarceration. but the issues are not being adequately addressed by the bureau of prisons. the research on criminal justice involved women and girls shows the risk factors i mentioned require different approaches in order to reduce women's recidivism and result in successful reentry. this is not like findings in other feelings like health care, where women experience heart
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attack symptoms very differently from men and their treatment needs differ. this understanding has saved women's lives. the bureau of prisons should adapt gender responsive correctional approaches that interrupt cycles of unnecessary suffering. states like washington provide a road map to do this successfully. when i was locked up in danbury, i knew women who were trying to raise their children during brief reunions in the visitors room while depending off sexual harassment and struggling with addiction and trying to get a high school education so that when they got out, they stood some chance of surviving despite their felony conviction. i saw women in bureau of prisons denied necessary medical care and women with mental health issues wait for months to see the one psychiatrist who was available for 1,400 women. and that's unimaginable in a system where at least 65% of
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women experience some kind of mental illness. equally shocking were the mandatory reentry classes inmates took to prepare to leave prison. i attended one on housing, which was led by a man who worked in construction in the prison. and the mostly poor and overwhelming minority women who release.
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he had, however, played professional baseball for a brief time and hence his expertise on the health topic. many of danbury's policies were questionable. but it was relatively close to home for most of the women who were serving time there. families could visit. children could see their mothers. many of whom were raising their kids on their own before being sent to prison. yet the bop refused to believe this when it changed to a men's facility. this was beyond the stated goal of no more than 500 miles from home. it has deprived many programming such as men enjoy, unicore employment or residential drug and alcohol treatment program, which not only is one of the most effective programs they have but is one of the only ways to earn a sentence reduction in the bureau. it is worth noting that the
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desire to empty that prison of women caused the bureau of prisons to examine prisoner sentences and exercise its discretion granted by the second chance act signed into law in 2008 by president bush. hundreds of women were reassigned to complete their sentences in halfway houses or even in home confinement. and while briefly exercised in the case of danbury fci, the bop has not used its authority under the act to safely reduce the federal prison population and return as many prisoners as possible to their communities. the bop should place all eligible prisoners in halfway houses or home confinement at the earliest possible dates and should use compassionate release and sentence reduction programs. and this would help relieve the persistent overcrowding and keep staff and prisoners safer while reducing costs. finally, the bop must be led by
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individuals who value the role of communities and families in rehabilitation and understand the particular needs of women. we appreciate the service of director samuels, and he leaves at the end of this year. he should be replaced by a leader who is committed to enacting these values into policy. i urge the administration to look outside of the existing bureau leadership for strong canned datz who will make the bop a model system driven by innovation and creativity. i close with the words of the legendary reformer and warden of sing sing prison thomas mott-osbourne who asked, shall our prisons be scrap heaps or human repair shops? today with the biggest prison population in human history here in the united states, we must insist on a different answer to this question. thank you.
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>> thank you. our next witness is mr. jerome dillard for dane county, wisconsin. he served as director of voices beyond bars, a group aimed at helping former inmates transitioning into community by offering employment and computer classes. i just want to thank you for traveling here from wisconsin for your testimony. >> thank you, senator johnson. in opening, i want to thank this committee for having me. i want to thank you, senator johnson, and my other senator from wisconsin, tammy baldwin, for having me sit before you today. i sit here as a formerly incarcerated citizen who served time in both federal and state prison systems. my crimes were nonviolent driven by a long history of drug addiction. while doing time in prison, i witnessed the system that was ballooning with predominantly
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young african-americans serving long prison sentences, 10, 20, 30 years for drug crimes. this was troubling to me, seeing so many young men losing the prime of their lives to the criminal justice system. it was while doing time i made a strong determination that i will do all i can to stay out of our prison system. i have been out roughly 19 years now. and i have had the opportunity to share my own journey of recovery at correctional centers, educational institution, conferences and in the community. giving my personal account how peer support directly aided in the success of my recovery in regards to substance abuse and mental health. we often don't think of the formerly incarcerated citizens is as work being done to address the issues of incarceration.
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the power of peer-led groups and organizations provide so many essentials needed for the successful reentry of individuals returning to our communities. and in-house prison support network of this type would be helpful for the process of rehabilitation. some of the barriers to creating this sense of community opposition from the bureau of prisons and the state prisons staff with fostering that us and them mentality. real cultural training would be a value in all prison systems. i want to say in the work that i do i realize that the barriers are tremendous. individuals returning to the community from state and federal prisons are often faced with huge amounts of debt, child support, restitution, supervision fees and on and on.
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real barriers to individuals who are often times subjected to the lower paying jobs available in our communities. i was given an opportunity to work in a mental health aoda prison in our state. this is a unique facility that invaluable because they provided mental health and care on an individualized basis. what i witnessed there and the programming that went on there i can't say enough about. because traumas are so prominent with this population. as i talked to these men, many -- and often i asked how many men had their fathers in their lives. the majority of teams these individuals would say, my father was in prison or i don't know my father and i was raised by the streets.
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these are some of the traumas, even fatherlessness is a trauma that usually goes unaddressed. and for those in our inner cities, they are humongous, they are huge. in the time that i have, i really can't elaborate on many of the things i would ike to say. but i'm going to say this in closing. in working with our incarcerated and formerly incarcerated citizens over a decade now, i am beginning to see a shift in confronting mass incarceration. it's an issue that both political parties agree on. america's addiction to mass incarceration is not working. it's costly. it does not restore people. and i personally feel that the climate is right and the ground is fertile for real criminal justice reform. the modern wore on drugs
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produced an overall population that remains unprecedented in world history. at the federal level, the growth and the incarceration rate has been even greater and more sustained than in the states. i am encouraged by some of the initiatives that are taking place on the local level and many states and counties. in my county, we are work to go address the racial disparities and reduce the number of those incarcerated at all levels of the criminal justice system. and great works are being done addressing these problems. and i feel that addressing these problems require far more tinkering with the sentencing policies of nonviolent offenders or revamping prison programs. to achieve a reasonable level of incarceration we will need to substantially reduce both the numbers of people admitted to prison and the length of their
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sentences. in making a suggestion i would like to say to the department of the -- bop, to continue to solicit feedback from people who are serving time so they can require programming to the prison population. the bop programming needs to match labor market data about high growth industries. it also needs to be specific to the regions. and last of all, the bop needs to advocate for congress to allow more merit time, early release, and incentives for good behavior or programming. thank you. >> thank you, mr. dillard. mr. ofer is with the american civil liberties union in new jersey. through his work at the aclu he worked on the state level to work a blueprint to reduce the prison population in new jersey.
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bail reform take place in 2015. and is estimated to reduce the population in new jersey by 8,500 inmates. mr. ofer. >> thank you, chairman johnson, ranking member carper. i'm the executive director of the american civil liberties union of new jersey. it is my honor and privilege to be here on behalf of the aclu and more than 1 million of our supporters living across the united states, including in new jersey. today's hearing comes at a critical moment in our nation's history when there is a rare opportunity to take bold action on criminal justice reform. republicans and democrats alike are taking a second look at our nation a's criminal justice system. and republicans and democrats alike are becoming much more pragmatic and much less ideological in their approach to criminal justice. following decades of punitive policies that sent millions to prison and devastated
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communities, particularly low income communities of color, americans are now realizing that our nation a's prisons and jails have grown too big and that all too often the people who end up in prison suffer from drug addiction and mental illness and should not be incarcerated in the first place. we know the story of our nation's incarcerated population. our nation's jails and prisons hold 2.3 million people on any given day. the federal prison population has increased from 25,000 prisoners in 1980 to more than 207,000 today. and all of this comes as an annual cost to tax payers of tens of thousands of dollars. but the costs have far more severe consequences than simply the fiscal responses necessary to 25% of the world's prisoners in 5% of the world population. the true costs are human lives. and particularly generations of
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young black and latino men who serve long prison sentences and are lost to their families and to their communities. and the fact is that african-americans and latinos are disproportionately engulfed in our criminal justice system. it is time for a change. we are at a crossroads as americans need to realize we need reform in our criminal justice systems. with this in mind i come before you today to urge you to seize this opportunity to reform prison practices, reduce the in carl rated population and create a system that is smarter, a system that is fair, and a stamm that is more cost-effective. and at the top of any reform of federal prison practices must be the issue of solitary confinement. approximately 5% of federal prisoners are in solitary confinement. that means on any given day, 11,000 people in federal prisons, 11,000 people, are
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confined to a 6 x 9 cell and deprived of basic human contact with little to no natural light and minimal if any constructive activity for 22 to 24 hours a day. in some federal facilities the average time that a prisoner sits in continuous solitary confinement is four years. you need to look no further than the front page of today's section of the "new york times". it's the signs not the politics section, to get a better understanding of the mental and physical consequence of long-term solitary confinement. according to a recent independent review of the federal prison system solitary system, there are major problems. federal prisons send thousands of seriously mental ill individually into solitary confinement. people who should be receiving treatment not sitting in the hole. and federal prisons use solitary
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and close to 1,400 people who are there for protective custody. but instead are subjected to virtually the same as those in solitary for punishment. what can we do about this? well, there are many small important steps the bureau can take today and that are outlining the independent review. yet the truth is if although we take today are small steps then we will have lost this historic moment for bold change. now is the time for historic change. solitary confinement has no place in american prisons. physical separation may sometimes be necessary for safety and for security but isolation is not. therefore, we call on the bureau of prisons and we call on the congress to resolve this issue once and for all. first, it's time to abolish the use of solitary confinement for persons under the age of 18 and
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for persons with mental illness. senator cory booker and rand paul already introduced legislation, the redeem act, which would prohibit the use of solitary confinement on juveniles. we fully support this legislation. second, for all other prisoners, the bureau should abolish periods of solitary confinement for periods longer than 15 days. it will lead to a smarter and more humane system and reduce recidivism rates. finally, a couple of quick words about new jersey. given the focus of this hearing on bop practices, the lessons from new jersey are not directly a applicable but they are worth mentioning. we are not a perfect model. we have terrible solitary confinement practices but there are things we have done well n. 1999, the incarceration population peaked at 21,000.
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there has been a 31% reduction in a decade and a half. we achieved it through numerous policies with the biggest being changing a harsh mandatory minimum and a decrease in the number of parolees returning for technical violations. as mentioned by senator johnson, we have recently had a major victory in a by patterson manner working with governor christie to overhaul the state a's bail system which will lead to thousands fewer in jail because they are poor. the bipartisan commitment to criminal justice reform is as strong as it will ever be. aclu urges congress to take a bold action to adopt our recommendations which would help to increase fairness and justice at every stage of the system. thank you. >> thank you, mr. ofer. and i do want to stress, you mentioned the word bipartisan a number of times, which is true.
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some of the folks of this committee has been describing problems and look for the areas. this is something we have broad agreement on. this system isn't working. we have to take a look at the facts and admit that harsh and stark reality. ms. kirman, you have a unique story here. you didn't spend much time on your story. maybe more people involved in pop culture. if you could quickly describe what you were put in prison for. and at the tail end i would also like you to tell me what do you think your punishment should have been. >> thank you for your question, senator johnson. i was -- when i was in my early 20s, which is a typical risk time for folks to be involved with crime or commit a crime, i was involved in a relationship with someone involved with
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narcotics. and i carried a bag of money from chicago to brussels in support of a drug trafficking enterprise. i voluntarily left that situation. you know, good sense kicked in. i was very fortunate. i had a college degree already. i had many benefits and privileges. so i was able to return to the united states and to get my life back on track and to put any involvement in crime behind me. many years past before i was indicted in the federal system and ultimately i was sent to prison 10 years after i committed my offense. i pled guilty to my crime very swiftly. i was very fortunate to only serve 13 months of a 15-month sentence. one of the things that was so striking to me the very first day that i spent in prison was that so many of the women that i was incarcerated with, who i would spend a great deal of time
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with, were serving much harsh sentences than i was. and as the days and the weeks and the months went on and i came to know those other women really well, it was impossible for me to believe that their crimes were so much more serious than mine. in fact, the only conclusion i could draw is they had been treated much more harshly by the american criminal justice system than i had been treated because of socioeconomic reasons, differences in class, and in some cases because of the color of their skin. i left the custody of the bureau of prisons in 2005. i had two years of supervised release, probation which i completed successfully. when i reflect on the punishment for my crime, i certainly cannot protest it when i think about the harshness with which poor people and poor people of color
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are treated in this country. it's hard, however, to believe there was a lot of social benefit to the committee drawn from my incarceration. it prevented no new crimes. i think particularly when we consider the puts we meted out for drug offenses we have to reflect upon the mandatory minimum sentencing laws generally in the mid-'80s. i think it was to curb substance abuse and addiction and some of the crimes that grow out of substance abuse and addiction. today, many decades after we passed those laws, we put millions and millions of americans in prison and saddled them with felony convictions. and today illegal narcotics are cheaper, they are more potent and they are had he more easily available than when we put mandatory minimum sentencing laws on the books and
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incarcerated all of those people n. terms of cushing substance abuse and addiction, those laws are a failure and locking people up for drug offenses, particularly low-level nonviolent drug offensesis a waste of time and money. >> i wanted to you to answer the final question. i agree. it's not working. there's two reasons for prison, punishment and deterrent. what type of punishment is appropriate and would deter people from, for example, trafficking drugs to young people. which is pretty damaging for society. what would be the alternative? have you given it any thought? >> i think a very appropriate part of my punishment if not confined to prison, working with people who are addicted drugs and with families suffering from the ravages of addiction. what i experienced while i was incarcerated is intense close
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friendships with women whose lives had been devastated by substance abuse and addiction. and that really brought home to me the harm of my own actions. and i think that's one of the most appropriate ways to deal with those kinds of hammers. >> good answer. very briefly, because i want to get to mr. dillard as well. the other women in prison, in general, were they there for just basically drug crime. >> in both state and federal systems but overwhelmingly in the federal system women are incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses and property crimes. in the federal system, i think if any member of this committee had the opportunity to meet the hundreds of women that i did time with, you would probably walk away from getting to know those women with a deep feeling that their confinement in a prison cell or a prison facility was just a colossal waste and
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not an appropriate way of intervening in the things that put them into the criminal justice system. >> thank you. mr. dillard, obviously we met in discussions about the difficulty of reentering society after you served your time. talk about the challenges. i mean, you were talking about the huge debt levels. you're sitting in prison. your child support just continues to build. and then you get out. it's very difficult to find a job. one of the things i'm working with senator booker is on banning the box for federal employees. to give people the opportunity to get a job. but even if you get a job, a lot are entry level. they don't pay a whole lot. we expect people to get out of prison and to all of a sudden start paying a off the debts. describe what happens when they're unable to. >> well, the fact is, when you're facing with these barriers, and i too came home faced with many barriers, the fact is i had support.
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i had individuals who kept me encouraged. and i had someone to give me analogy. and that was putting a little bit behind you at a time. i was fortunate to be able to obtain a living wage employment about a year and a half after being out. that was helpful. after 13 years i finally got a tax return. and that analogy of putting the debt behind you a little bit at a time is something that i teach to young men today. the fact is many of our young people have ties to the criminal justice system. and there's so much hopelessness that comes with being tied to the criminal justice system that often they feel there is no place for them in the workforce. application after application, turndown after turndown because,
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in many instances, of your criminal convictions. individuals go into hopelessness. from there addiction can raise its ugly head. hustling. or just becoming part of the norm in many of the communities that have had to result to these things. >> again, in our meeting, one of the issues we were talking with spoke that not paying child support ends up being a parole violation. >> yes. >> which lands you right back in jail, correct? which costs us $33,000 for a male prisoner. and i think it's about $50,000 for a female prisoner. so, again, these enormous challenges trying to reintegrate in society, get a job. then when you're unable to pay off your child support, which again we all want people to be responsible and pay for their children, but then you land right back in jail. is that -- that's what i heard. is that basically true?
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>> well, in some cases. but the fact is child support continues to accumulate even while you're doing time. i had a gentleman who was released from 15 years. $60,000, $70,000 in debt with child support. along with all of the other things that came. the only employment that he could find was working in a fast food restaurant at a minimum wage. and after taking home his second paycheck, he was like, i can't make it like this. i just can't. you know, over 40% of his check was being taken before he even got it. and you know, that's a discouragement really for him to continue working at a minimum wage position and not be able to pay rent or have transportation. >> okay. thank you mr. dillard.
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i'm out of time. senator carper. >> chairman said a few minutes ago that the two reasons for prisons, punishment and deterrence and i would say there is one more and that is to try to correct behavior so when people come out they are less likely to resid vat and return to our prison. i mention earlier, when i was governor for the second term and his words still ring true today, the overwhelming majority of people incarcerated are going to come out some day. they are not there for ever. they come back into the society and communities and they could come out as better people or better criminals. and cory booker or senator booker alluded to a moral imperative that we face, whether people of faith or not, he alluded to matthew 25, when i was hungry and when i was thirsty, when i was naked and when i was sick and in prison, did you come and see me.
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i've been to every prison in delaware. we transformed the school, which was a juvenile prison into a real school and i've given this matter huge amounts of time and thought over the time that i was there and even now. and the national governors association we used to say, i would say to my cabinet when we had meetings dealing with a particular issue, i would say somebody, some governor in some state has dealt with this issue and figured out how to deal with it and we have to find that governor and work on who faced that challenge in that state. a lot of what we've talked about here, somebody has done something good and could serve as a model. states are laboratories for democracy. and before we go off for the bureau of prisons just starting from scratch, we need to look around our country and say, well what are states doing some things really well? . our state we changed the
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juvenile prison into a real school. in our state we decide -- and when we had people in prison, we're going to have them for a while, why not work on educational schools an create a school within the prisons to work with them on drug addictions, to give them an opportunity for whatever faith they might be and to actually exercise their faith, learn about their faith, to prepare for transformation, to learn skills, whether it is upgrading computers, whether it is building furniture, whether it is learning auto repair and to take the whole fleet for the state of delaware and the car fleet and basically provided maintenance in the prison system to the people have at least that kind of skill when they walked out. what i would like to do is ask each of you to give us one terrific example could be in a state or a local correctional system, one terrific example within the system and the prison itself or frankly without, because if we don't do better job on the early side, the early
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childhood side and so forth, we're not really going after the root cause. but just give us one good example. could be in the correctional system, it could be before, it could be after release, do you think we ought to really drill down and try our best to emulate. thank you, missker man. >> thank you, senator carper. i currently teach nonfiction writing in two state prisons in ohio and one is a men's medium security prison it. was built for 14 someone men and currently houses 2600 men. it is led by a young warden who was trained as a social worker at osu. he does things differently than ever prison i've step foot inside. the prison has more lifers than any other prison in the state of ohio. it has -- it is one of two prisons with the lowest violence rate in that prison. so that is a big change over
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time in that facility. that warden and his predecessors have done a great job of making that a much safer prison. and that warden has and his staff have a tremendous amount of rehabilitation programming of every sort, whether it is vocation vocational, educational or spiritual. one of the programs ever put in place back there in the 1990s was an interfaith dorm where prisoners of different faith would come and live in that dorm for a year and learn how to deal with each other and their differences and go back out into general population as changed agents. that prison is a really interesting place and that warden's philosophy and the philosophy of all of his staff because one man cannot do it all, all of the staff need to be on board for him to do that, is really inspirational, i think. i want to make a note on some of the results that that prison
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gets, back to udi's confinement. >> mrs.kerman, i would like to listen to you for the rest of the morn but i only have two minutes so i would ask you to hold it right there and we'll have a second round and come back. but i would note this, i'm an ohio state under grad and one of the things that attracted me to the key west program at our prison that mccaffrey our nation drug czar came to see and helped us to implement that from jimmin sarty out of columbus, ohio and it frankly worked pretty well. mr. dillard, same question, give us one great example. piper has given us one. give us one as well. >> well, i personally feel that the work is on the offenders themselves. and that is when i -- it was a lifer who really made a difference in my life who spoke life into me and throughout my
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prison sentence i realized how the older inmates really work with and try to encourage younger -- the younger ones. i still feel that you can't leave formerly incarcerated citizens out of the equation. >> mr. roper. >> so i'm going to give you two quick examples. one is solitary confinement. there are examples of statements that have reduced solitary confinement without causing risk to staff and inmates and a good example is coloradoment in 2011 colorado placed in solitary confinement 7% of the incarcerated population and today it is 1% of the population. we've seen a dramatic decrease in the use of solitary by banning the use of solitary against vulnerable populations like those with serious mental illness and the number of days
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you can be sent. that is one. and the second is bill reform and what we've done in new jersey and other municipalities are looking at, in new jersey we had 10,000 people sit in jail for -- awaiting their trial because they couldn't afford a few thousand dollars in bail. we've revamped that system where your bail on whether you are released pretrial is determined by your risk assessment and not by whether you are poor or rich. we believe that change in and of itself will lead to three quarters of the 10,000, to 7,000 to 8,000 fewer people sitting in jail. before the reform, the average time that a person sat in jail awaiting their trial was 314 days. these are people that are presumed innocent until proven guilty and that are being treated like guilty and this is a phenomenon all over the country an that is one of the ways we can dramatically reduce our jail population in the united states. >> let me close by saying this.
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senator and i talked about the morale imperative we have in this the country to look out for the least of these and we have a fiscal imperative and it is still imperative and hence the need to find out what is working and do more of that and find out what is not working and do less of that. thank you so much. >> thank you senator carper. before i turn it over to senator booker because you mentioned my name and didn't get it right. i said that jails -- we jail people to punish and to deter, but then i also fully mentioned the mission statement of the bureau of prisons to ensure that the defenders are participating in programs that will assist them in becoming law abiding citis when they return to -- citizens when they return to the communities and i highlights ms.kerman, should our prisons be scrap heaps or repair shops. i hope they are human repair shops. so with that, senator booker. >> thank you mr. chairman.
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udi, let's jump in real quick. so solitary confinement, can you please describe this. because as i've had these conversations with friends and others, people think that solitary confinement is a result of someone having done something wrong in prison. and why is solitary confinement so commonplace? is it because prisoners are doing things wrong, in prison? >> well, you know, we've seen as a nation a dramatic increase in the use and reliance on solitary over the last couple of decades. we don't have exact reliable scientific data because we have aterirable job of tracking those who are in solitary confinement and it is particularly in response to overcrowding and where prison officials are overwhelmed and the quick reaction is to send people too the hole. so we have examples from new jersey and around the country of people being sent to solitary for things like talking back.


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