Joe Biden vowed to end jail time for drug offences but told a TV town hall he will not defund police.
The president spoke out on the state of policing and prison sentencing in the US when asked about how to not “over legislate” police officers in high crime neighbourhoods, while training them to “police with compassion.”
“By number one, not defunding the police,” said Mr Biden at the CNN event in Wisconsin.
“We have to put more money into police work so that we have legitimate community policing and we are in a situation where we change the legislation.
“No-one should go to jail for a drugs offence, no-one should go to jail for the use of a drug, they should go to drug rehabilitation.
“We should be in the position where we change the sentencing system to one that relates to a notion of making sure you focus on making sure there is rehabilitation.”
Mt Biden went on to defended police officer by saying they had a right to get home from work safely, while also defending the rights of young Black men to not be harassed.
“Every cop when they get up in the morning and put on that shield has a right to expect to go home to their family that night. Conversely, every kid walking across the street wearing a hoodie is not a member of of a gang and is about to knock somebody off. It is about education.”
The town hall in Milwaukee took place around 40 miles from Kenosha, where violence flared after the shooting of Jacob Blake last year.
During the live event, his first since becoming president, Mr Biden took questions from a live event on a string of subjects.
Mr Biden advised Americans to get any vaccine, whenever it became available to them, and said that he hoped the country would be back to normal by “next Christmas.”
The president defended his administration’s call for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 and that he wanted to that “gradually.”
During the event he also offered to help a mother whose 19-year-old son is sick but cannot get quick access to the vaccine.
“If you’re willing, I’ll stay around after this is over and maybe we can talk a few minutes and see if I can get you some help,” said Mr Biden.
He also told host Anderson Cooper that he had spoken on the phone with all the former presidents since entering the White House, with the exception of Donald Trump.
“They’re private conversations,” he said.
“But, by the way, all of them, with one exception, picked up the phone and called me as well.”
Mr Biden added that he was honoured to finally be the president of the United States.
“I literally pray that I have the capacity to do for the country what you all deserve need be done,” he said.