President Trump convenes experts on overhaul of nation's prison system

Ceria Alfonso
Enero 13, 2018

President Trump campaigned on a promise of law and order.

But facing a narrow majority in the Senate, the White House views the issue - along with plans for a sweeping infrastructure bill - as among a handful of areas where Trump could work with Democrats in Congress. On Thursday, the White House deployed the bully pulpit on behalf of prisoners struggling when they return home. As Trump noted, the Justice Department has reported that approximately two-thirds of the more than 650,000 ex-offenders released from prison every year are rearrested within three years. Wednesday's White House event built on similar listening sessions held by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, who discussed the issue at a dinner with a bipartisan group of lawmakers at Kushner and Ivanka Trump's Washington home previous year.

But Congress has failed to act on broader measures that would cut prison terms for drug offenders.

Trump discussed potential changes to the prison system with lawmakers and Cabinet members at Camp David earlier in the month.

A bipartisan effort that began under former President Barack Obama aimed to reshape everything from the way drug criminals are punished to conditions behind bars. Under Trump, it has downsized into an initiative that would provide more job training, education and mentoring opportunities as those same people prepare to leave prison.

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Mark Holden of the conservative Freedom Partners came away from the meeting with a sense of optimism. Trump was an active participant in the session, staying for the whole 45-minute session and asking questions, he said. "He seemed like he got the issue, understood it and connected with it".

"I really think the White House is looking at lots of different avenues forward", from congressional action to executive orders, Rollins said.

The president was joined by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Republican Govs.

Sessions has directed the nation's federal prosecutors to pursue the toughest charges possible against suspects in most cases, a move that is expected to drive up the federal prison population at a time when it had been falling. He also signaled he would make use of private prisons, a break from the Obama administration. "The president talking about prison reform is a good thing", said Kevin Ring of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, which supports inmates and their families.

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