With White House support on improving federal prisoner reentry programs, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) believes legislation on the subject will pass this year, reports the Texas Tribune. Even if lawmakers can’t agree on provisions to reduce mandatory minimum sentences, “I hope what we’ll do is we’ll start with that prison reform component,” the Senate Majority Whip told a meeting in Texas. He added, “I think it would be a great thing if we can pass prison reform and get it to the president’s desk. I’m more optimistic about that happening this year, in the next few months, than I’ve ever been before.”
The influential network backed by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch is zeroing in on Texas as a new laboratory for prison reform. That topic was a major focus last weekend when about 550 network donors in Indian Wells, Ca., to plot politics and policy for the coming year. Texas is one of four states, including also Louisiana, Florida and Pennsylvania, where researchers will develop “individualized reentry” plans for over 1,000 participants at eight sites and study the outcomes. Prison reform efforts appreciate the Kochs’ effort but they warn that the cause is staggering in its scale. Nearly 70,000 prisoners were released in Texas in 2016.