Kushner to Hold White House Meeting on Prisons

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President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is holding a roundtable Thursday at the White House to gather recommendations for improving mentoring and job training in federal prisons, the Washington Post reports. The newspaper calls the session a departure from the administration’s focus on more punitive crime-fighting measures.  A bipartisan group of about two dozen officials, religious leaders and business leaders were invited to the first major criminal justice-related event of the Kushner-led Office of American Innovation. “There is a lot of agreement from the left and the center and the right that once a person has committed a crime we should make sure we give them the best opportunities to try to live a productive life after serving their time,” Kushner told the Post. “We’re not looking to train better criminals.”

Kushner’s private discussions with members of Congress and outside groups have included sentencing reform. Neither Attorney General Jeff Sessions nor his new Bureau of Prisons director, retired Army Gen. Mark Inch, will attend Thursday. Invited criminal justice advocates said the gathering is a positive first step. They called for expanding drug and mental health treatment, vocational training, mentoring programs and placement in halfway houses. “Regardless of what you think about who goes to prison or how long they need to be there, most people come out eventually, so let’s make sure they are better off than when they came in,” said Mark Holden of Koch Industries, a conservative proponent of reducing incarceration. The federal prison population is expected to grow 2 percent over the coming year to 191,493, reversing the downward trend of the past four years. Among officials slated to participate Thursday are Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Republican Govs. Matt Bevin of Kentucky and Sam Brownback of Kansas.

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