President Donald Trump picked a Georgia pastor to be the new “reentry czar,” a position created in the White House to help former inmates find housing, employment and other opportunities to provide “second chances” for success after they leave prison, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Trump outlined the initiative in a 2018 executive order establishing a Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry that he tasked with developing recommendations for reform. He selected Tony Lowden, pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, to be the council’s executive director. “The president has been totally committed to second chances and this is that next step to pave the way, and really creating, and reducing recidivism,” said presidential aide Ja’Ron Smith.
Lowden will work with local communities to bring together former inmates, businesses, associations, law enforcement and faith-based and community groups to partner on helping former prisoners succeed after they are released from federal custody. Lowden has worked on prison reform in Georgia and served as the director of the faith and justice initiative for former Gov. Nathan Deal. He gained national recognition as pastor to former President Jimmy Carter, who teaches Sunday school at Maranatha. Smith said id in an interview with McClatchy that Lowden will join a team that works on issues like opportunity zones — the low-income areas for which the Trump administration has approved tax breaks for investors — and funding and outreach to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The White House will take its message on Friday to Charlotte, where it will hold the first in a series of revitalization and “opportunity now” summits.