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President Obama Asked What Recovery Act Has For 33-Time Felons

The question of the day at President Obama‘s Tampa, Florida, Town Hall meeting has got to be this stumper from aspiring poet Rashonda Williams, an energetic charmer who got the President’s attention by jumping up and down. She explained to the President that her brothers are “in and out of prison with the drugs,” and went on to say that her 27 year-old brother has accumulated 33 drug felonies. She wanted to know if the President had any ideas to break that cycle of recidivism. The President paused awhile before answering.

This was a tough question. The questioner was likable (she wrote the President a poem and framed it for him) and to the point, and her question didn’t seem to have a wise answer. This isn’t exactly a great time to champion the cause of unemployed drug dealers, but then he couldn’t just say, “He’s screwed,” could he?

The President handled it with humor and compassion, pointing out that 33 is a lot of felonies, and talking about the need to fund the Second Chance Act. Still, the end result seems to be, “He’s screwed.” I imagine the Second Chance Act will be a tough sale once that spending freeze scalpel takes effect, even though it probably takes up a microscopic percentage of the funding we gave for Wall Street’s Second Chance Act.

It was still a very memorable exchange.


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