President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, met with advocates Thursday to discuss prison reform and re-entry.
The meeting, grown from an initiative led by Kushner, focused on programs to help prisoners re-enter the workforce and reduce the rate of released prisoners who end up back in prison.
“Two-thirds of the 650,000 people released from prison each year are arrested again within three years,” Trump said. “We can help break this viscous cycle through job training, very important, job training, mentoring and drug addiction treatment.”
Invited guests Thursday included Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly, Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Ky., Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Texas Public Policy Foundation President Brooke Rollins and Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union.
The group discussed successes with rehabilitating inmates and reducing recidivism rates in states such as Georgia, Kansas and Kentucky. Bevin said 95 percent of prisoners will ultimately be released.
“What are we doing to ensure that they have been rehabilitated, and can be re-assimilated into society,” he said. “We’re good at removing them.”
The group discussed a Kentucky law focusing on job training for prisoners and increasing the availability of occupational licenses for convicted felons as well as Kansas’ efforts to reform its juvenile justice system and focus on alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenders.
“In Texas we’ve changed a lot of laws and closed eight prisons,” Rollins said. “And the crime rate is down 31 percent over the last 10 years at a time when our population has exploded.”
Kushner previously held a meeting at the Camp David presidential retreat last weekend in addition to roundtable discussions including “federal and state officials, faith leaders, grassroots leaders and prison reform experts” throughout the past six months.
“We will be very tough on crime, but we will provide a ladder of opportunity for the future,” Trump said.