President Barack Obama (pictured) will be the first U.S. president to visit a federal prison while still in office as part of a Vice Media special exploring the American criminal justice system and airing on HBO in the fall.
Vice Media founder and the special’s host Shane Smith is to accompany Obama to the El Reno, Oklahoma medium-security male prison, which houses 1,300 inmates.
The presidential visit to the correctional facility is part of Obama’s “intensified push to overhaul the nation’s criminal justice system,” according to the Washington Post. The as-yet untitled documentary, meanwhile, will be part of a larger-reaching project for the U.S. premium cable network that will aim to expose the cracks in the American criminal justice system while examining the stories of cellmates and their families, and prison staff and law enforcement officials.
“There’s an emerging consensus in this country — on both the right and the left — that the way we treat criminal offenders is utterly broken and weakening our society in profound ways,” Smith said in a statement. “Visiting El Reno with President Obama — the first-ever visit to a federal prison by a sitting president — will give our viewers a firsthand look into how the president is thinking about this problem, from the policy level down to one-on-one conversations with the men and women living this reality.”
America is home to 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prison population, which has risen 700% since 1970 according to a report from Pew Research.
(Photo: AP Photo)