President Obama made the first visit by a sitting president to a penitentiary when he dropped in to the El Reno (Oklahoma) Federal Correctional Institution on Thursday and offered an ambitious reform agenda.
The last time we saw prison inmates get this kind of celebrity attention was back in 1969, when a visiting Johnny Cash blasted California’s San Quentin Prison, singing, “May all the world forget you ever stood. And may all the world regret you did no good.”
Unlike his confessional song “Folsom Prison Blues,” Mr. Cash’s “San Quentin” condemned the system, assigning no blame whatever to convicts for their miserable plight.
Incidentally, Cash played his very first prison concert at San Quentin in 1958, inspiring 20-year-old inmate Merle Haggard to straighten out and pursue a country music career. Perhaps Mr. Obama’s visit the other day similarly inspired a future politician or two.
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