Trump Administration Holds Listening Session on Prisoner Reentry
On January 11, Trump administration officials heard from various conservative organizations about why they support reentry policy. Under the umbrella of Jared Kushner’s Office of American Innovation, administration officials met with faith-based leaders, former inmates who have been rehabilitated, conservative leaders and other experts on the issue. In addition, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, along with Governors Sam Brownback (KS), Nathan Deal (GA) and Matt Bevin (KY) attended the session. All governors spoke of how reentry programs have helped reduce recidivism in their respective states. Governor Bevin made the point that a productive member of society is much less likely to commit new crimes. “We need (ex-offenders) to become a functional part of our economic society,” he said.
The White House sees prison reform as a conservative issue, as reentry programs in the states have reduced crime rates, which in turn have resulted in budgetary savings due to fewer offenders being incarcerated. Importantly, this issue has seen bipartisan support in several states as well. Such bipartisan support will be crucial heading into a midterm election year when it could be more difficult to pass legislation than it was last year. The administration is exploring possible actions going forward. An early step could include a push for public awareness involving churches and other nonprofit organizations. In addition, the issue came up during this weekend’s Camp David meeting with Republican congressional leaders.
The ALEC model policy, Resolution in Support of Reentry Programs, encourages collaboration between corrections agencies, nonprofits and faith-based organizations. These public-private partnerships are essential to ensuring that ex-offenders are in a position to be productive members of society upon their release from prison. This reduces crime rates and saves taxpayer money, allowing for law enforcement resources to be directed to other areas. In essence, reentry programs make communities safer and more sustainable. Therefore, ALEC commends the administration for examining this issue.