President Trump tells a bipartisan group of prison reformers he wants to secure our schools to “keep our children safe.”
Trump began his remarks at the Prison Reform Summit on a somber note “by expressing our sadness and heartbreak over the deadly shooting” which took the lives of at least 8 victims Friday in Santa Fe, Texas.
The president lamented yet another deadly school shooting adding “we grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our support and love to everyone affected by this absolutely horrific attack.”
Trump then called on God to “heal the injured” saying, “May God comfort the wounded and may God be with the victims and with the victim’s families.”
Turning to the business of the day, the White House doubled down on the push for prison reform as the much awaited First Step Act gathers steam on Capitol Hill.
The president told attendees he wants former inmates to have a second chance and find a “path to success so they can support their families and support their communities.”
Trump thinks the high rate of recidivism, a pattern of repeat offenses by criminals, is frankly “a waste of human capital.”
He plans to create jobs for them to give former inmates a chance to “gain dignity and pride that comes with a career.”
Both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence addressed a bipartisan room full of attendees for the first ever White House Prison Reform Summit.
The event was kicked off by a woman named Hannah who made an emotional plea for children who “want nothing more than to come home to their mom or dad.”
Pence, who says he was touched by Hannah’s plea, offered this promise: “This will be the White House that reforms the American prison system for the betterment of all the American people.”
Pence, who is touted for the way he enacted prison reform in Indiana, applauded the work of faith based groups which help to change the hearts of inmates and offer hope for a brighter future as a productive part of society.
To former inmates, the vice president offered this encouragement: “You deserve a chance to make a difference in your life and in the lives of this nation.”
As for the drain on state coffers, the vice president says plainly the system “costs too much and delivers too little,” and a recent report by the Council of Economic Advisors agrees with him.
Their report points to the enormous cost of our current prison system and the growing need to turn the tide of criminal activity.
“Crime imposes a significant burden on Americans’ well-being and tax-financed resources. These costs are amplified by a cycle of crime that results in re-arrest rates for released American prisoners in excess of 50 percent. Rigorous and evidence-based prison reforms are proposed to break the crime cycle, thereby reducing future crime and lowering incarceration expenditures by facilitating more successful re-entry upon prison release.”
Opponents of the measure say the bill does not go far enough to help inmates reenter society and will in fact increase discriminatory practices against people of color.
In a five-page letter, obtained by Politico, top Democrats say they have “serious concerns with the First Step Act” calling it a “step backwards.”
The letter, signed by Sen. Dick Durbin and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, goes on to say the bill has “fundamental flaws” because it does not address sentencing reform and is therefore ineffective.
They say this bill could actually “worsen the situation in our federal prisons by creating discriminatory non-evidence based policies.”
Despite the controversy the White House is determined to plug away at this important issue spearheaded by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.
Kushner has championed this cause by reaching across the aisles and into the pews galvanizing hundreds of faith leaders in his bid to help rehabilitate inmates.
Kushner, who is very passionate about this issue because of his personal experience, says the president wants to work for those who are forgotten and “there’s no one more forgotten and underrepresented than the people in prison.”