Trump Prison Session to Focus on Inmate Reentry

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President Trump’s “listening session” on prison reform Thursday is expected to focus on improving prisoner reentry and not other criminal justice topics like prison conditions or sentencing reform, Newsweek reports. In attendance will be three Republican governors who have promoted criminal justice reform in their states–Nathan Deal of Georgia, Matt Bevin of Kentucky and Sam Brownback of Kansas–along with televangelist Paula White, according to Derek Cohen of Right on Crime. “All the policy issues we’ve discussed with the administration have a conservative orientation,” said Cohen. “Faith is going to be an integral part of any reentry plan.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Trump administration have discussed cutting government regulation to make it easier for former prisoners to get jobs, Cohen said. Getting rid of restrictions that bar ex-cons from working as barbers, for example, allow inmates to more easily get a job upon release and reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden, who will also attend the meeting, said, “Our point of view at Koch is prisoner reentry needs to begin at day one of the sentence” and not “60 or 90 days out” from release. He added that mental health and drug treatment, along with vocational training, need to happen in prisons so inmates are prepared for life outside when they are released. “I’m delighted that the president has made this a priority,” said Pat Nolan of the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform. Trump adviser Jared Kushner’s Office of American Innovation is also working on an apprenticeship plan for released prisoners that could match inmates with employers, but it’s unclear whether that initiative will be announced Thursday.

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