Former Presidents Carter, Stevenson, and Kline have all joined the threat to boycott, while Bill Clinton has stated he may refuse to address the 2020 Dem convention.
Baltimore, Maryland: Speaking to the national committee of the NAACP, former president Barack Obama announced he was boycotting all Democratic party events including fundraisers and campaigning for Democratic candidates until the Democratic controlled senate began the hearing into the prison abuse scandal that started at Beaumont after inmates began to smear feces within their cell walls and going on hunger strike. With the recent scandal developing at Fort Worth prison, the former president in his remarks stated he could no longer be silent on an issue that deeply concerns him. Mr. Obama since his time leaving office has become a passionate and dedicated prison reform advocate, known for visiting prisons and speaking to inmates about their living conditions. Mr. Obama has also said in a New York Times interview that he believed marijuana should be legalized and those inmates who were users rather than dealers should not be sent to prison and left with a criminal record.
Avoiding attacking President LeClavers, Mr. Obama called the slow efforts of the committee to start the hearing on the abuse scandal, concerning and outrageous. Calling it the duty of Congress to get to the truth in the matter and to rectify the issues within the federal prison system. While he saved praise for senators Osiris Storm and Hillary Edwards for attempting to push the senate to begin a hearing and an investigation into the scandal, the former president stated that many senators had only ignored the issue while focusing on confirmation hearings. “Confirmation hearings do not stop the normal business of a senate committee, the hearing into the prison abuse scandal has been motioned and seconded while the committee chair has chosen to ignore it, if the Democratic party believes this is not an important issue then I will not use my time and effort to help them in their efforts to fund raise and the upcoming midterm elections.”
In a system where African-Americans and Latino-Americans make up a sizeable portion of the 2.2 million prison population, African-Americans nation wide have also been critical of the slow response of action towards the growing problem. Helen Brown, a forty-year-old teacher from Cleveland, Ohio whose son is an inmate has grown increasing frustrated by the response by congress to do anything. “I think its disturbing, these prisoners are still American citizens. They still have rights and we have laws that should protect them from abuse. Why is the senate ignoring the problem?”
42% of African-American Democratic voters in a CNN poll indicated that they believe the Democratic party have failed on African-American issues while 55% believe the Democratic Party has ignored the prison abuse scandal to avoid upsetting moderate white voters.
However even former president George Bush was critical of his own party calling on the Republicans to pressure senate Democrats to begin the hearing on the scandal, saying that the Republican party should take an active role in ensuring American prisoners rights where maintained in federal prisons.