Eliminate disparity in sentencing for crack and cocaine
"Will work in a bipartisan way to eliminate disparities" between mandatory sentences for trafficking crack cocaine versus powder cocaine, which he believes has disproportionately filled our prison with young black and Latino drug users. "They will also repeal the mandatory minimum sentence for first-time offenders convicted of simple possession of crack, as crack is the only drug that a non-violent first-time offender can receive a mandatory minimum sentence for possessing."
Enhance drug courts
"Currently, the Department of Justice makes grants available to state and local governments to establish drug courts. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will replicate these efforts within the federal criminal justice system by signing a law that would authorize federal magistrates to preside over drug courts and federal probation officers to oversee the offenders' compliance with drug treatment programs. They will ensure that our federal courts and probation offices have adequate resources to deal with this new program."
Create a prison-to-work incentive program
"Will create a prison-to-work incentive program, modeled on the Welfare-to-Work Partnership, to create ties with employers, third-party agencies that provide training and support services to exoffenders, and to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates."
Repeal law that limits the sharing of gun-tracing data
Will "repeal the Tiahrt Amendment and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade."
Sign the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act
Will sign into law the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act "to remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, ensure that support payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies, fund support services for fathers and their families, and support domestic violence prevention efforts."
Attract foreign art talent
"Will streamline the visa process to return America to its rightful place as the world's top destination for artists and art students."
Speed up development of the next-generation space vehicle
"Will expedite the development of the Shuttle's successor systems for carrying Americans to space so we can minimize the gap. This will be difficult; underfunding by the Bush administration has left NASA with limited flexibility to accelerate the development of the new systems."
Support improved weather prediction program
Will work to launch "without further delay" the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, "an international effort to improve climate, weather, and hydrological predictions through more accurate and more frequent precipitation measurements."
Restore housing in New Orleans
"Will work with the state to establish a goal for approving all Road Home applications within two months...Will also work to increase the supply of rental property, which is particularly important in New Orleans where 57 percent of pre-Katrina residents were renters."
Ensure New Orleans locals can get recovery jobs
"Will fight to ensure more Katrina-related recovery or reconstruction activities can be done by local residents. These measures would ensure that Gulf Coast residents, and not big corporations, will rebuild their communities...Will work to improve job training in the area as well."
Appoint experienced disaster official to head FEMA
"Will professionalize and depoliticize the appointment of FEMA's director. Like the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FEMA Director will have a fixed term of office to insulate him or her from politics. The FEMA Director will report directly to President Obama, serve a six-year term and will have professional emergency management experience."
Reform the Small Business Administration's ability to respond after disasters
"Will fix the Small Business Administration (SBA) bureaucracy so that it can step in during a disaster and provide assistance." The SBA was quickly overwhelmed with applications following Katrina.
Appoint a Chief Financial Officer to oversee the rebuilding following national disasters
"Will appoint a Chief Financial Officer to oversee the rebuilding following national disasters to minimize waste and abuse."
Fund a major expansion of AmeriCorps
"Will expand and fund AmeriCorps from 75,000 slots today to 250,000 and they will focus this expansion on addressing the great challenges facing the nation." These additional slots will enable AmeriCorps to establish five new Corps: Classroom Corps to help teachers and students, with a priority placed on high-need and underserved schools; Health Corps to improve public health information and outreach to areas with inadequate health systems such as rural areas and inner cities; Clean Energy Corps to promote energy independence through efforts like weatherization, renewable energy projects and educational outreach; Veterans Corps to help keep America's sacred trust with its veterans; and Homeland Security Corps to help communities plan, prepare for and respond to emergencies.
Expand the YouthBuild program, a youth education and housing program.
"Will work with YouthBuild to grow from 8,000 slots today to 50,000 slots over the next eight years in order to meet the demand from young people and communities for this valuable program." YouthBuild programs allow low-income young people to work toward their GED or high school diploma while they build housing for low-income people.
Encourage more public service by college students
Under the current federal work-study program - which provides nearly $1 billion dollars a year to about 3,400 colleges and universities to subsidize part-time jobs for students - at least 7 percent of that funding is supposed to go to community service jobs like tutoring. Obama believes we need to raise the service threshold to 25 percent "so that more students can afford to engage in public service. This will help more than 200,000 college students a year complete part-time public service while they are in school. Obama ... will work to help colleges and universities reach the goal of 50 percent in serve-study advanced by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and by General Colin Powell as the chair of America's Promise."
Create an office to help improve nonprofits
"Will a create an agency within the Corporation for National and Community Service dedicated to building the capacity and effectiveness of the nonprofit sector. The agency will be charged with: improving coordination of programs that support nonprofits across the federal government; fostering nonprofit accountability; streamlining processes for obtaining federal grants and contracts, and eliminating unnecessary requirements; and removing barriers for smaller nonprofits to participate in government programs. The agency will make grants to build the infrastructure of the nonprofit sector and capacity of nonprofit organizations, including their ability to ensure accountability, manage volunteers, and improve outcomes."
Secure nuclear weapons materials in four years
"Will lead a global effort to secure all nuclear weapons materials at vulnerable sites within four years - the most effective way to prevent terrorists from acquiring a nuclear bomb. Barack Obama will fully implement the Lugar-Obama legislation to help our allies detect and stop the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction."
Make security part of new infrastructure design
"Will ensure that security is considered and built into the design of new infrastructure, so that our critical assets are protected from the start and more resilient to naturally-occurring and deliberate threats throughout their life-cycle."
Expand broadband's reach
Will "get true broadband to every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation's wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives."
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