President Obama to Visit El Reno Federal Prison in Okalhoma
July 16, 2015
When President Obama arrives at the El Reno federal prison in Oklahoma, he will be the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. With 18 months left in office, he has embarked on a new effort to reduce sentences for nonviolent offenders; to make life easier for former convicts to re-enter society; and to revamp prison life by easing overcrowding, cracking down on inmate rape, and limiting solitary confinement.
• When President Obama arrives at the El Reno federal prison in Oklahoma, he will be the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. With 18 months left in office, he has embarked on a new effort to reduce sentences for nonviolent offenders; to make life easier for former convicts to re-enter society; and to revamp prison life by easing overcrowding, cracking down on inmate rape, and limiting solitary confinement. This visit reflects an emerging bipartisan drive to overhaul America’s criminal justice system, including the improvement of living conditions for prisoners. President Obama has made common cause with Republicans and Democrats who have come to the shared conclusion that the U.S. has given excessive sentences to too many nonviolent offenders at an enormous moral and financial cost to the country. He has commuted the sentences of 46 such prisoners and gave a speech calling for legislation to overhaul the criminal justice system by the end of the year. [NYTimes]
• Los Angeles’ garment industry frets over the coming pay hike. Despite slipping from earlier highs, Los Angeles still boasts more jobs making jeans, jackets, and other apparel than any other pocket of the country. But manufacturers and designers now fear “Made in L.A.” is under threat from a new law set to boost the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The city’s wage law, which will raise the base pay by 50% over five years, serves as a test for urban minimum wages. Advocates say it will provide much needed help for working families, but manufacturers warn it will undercut their competitiveness and drive them out of town. San Francisco and Seattle have already moved to establish an eventual $15-an-hour floor, but Los Angeles marks the attempt that a city with a large low-wage manufacturing base has decided to raise its wage minimum so high. As a result, what happens in L.A. will be closely watched elsewhere. [WSJ]
Economic Indicators & News
• U.S. home-builder confidence hits its highest level in nearly a decade. A gauge of home-builder sentiment hit its highest level since November 2005, reflecting confidence in a steadily improving U.S. housing market. An index of builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes stood at the steadily adjusted level of 60 in July, the National Association of Home Builders announced Thursday. A reading over 50 means most builders generally see conditions as positive. A slowly solidifying jobs market could also whet Americans’ appetite and capacity for homeownership. And while interest rates have edged up since the winter, they remain at historically low levels. In May, sales of existing homes reached the highest level since 2009 and new home sales hit a seven-year high. The June new home sales data will be released Friday. [NAHB]