« Press reports indicate White House listening session to be focused only on reentry issues, not sentencing reform | Main | "Mental Health Courts and Sentencing Disparities" »

January 11, 2018

Notable comments by Prez Trump during meeting on prison review

I spent most of Thursday on the road, and various news stations were reporting on statements by Prez Trump others than those on the topic of prison reform. But, as this official White House page reveals, Prez Trump made some comments during a meeting that ought not be overlooked. Here are excerpts:

We’ll be discussing a number of opportunities to improve our prison system to better promote public safety and to help former prisoners reenter society as productive citizens. Very important. Very big topic. It’s become a very big topic, especially, I think, over the last 12 months or so. We’ve been focused on it very strongly.

We support our law enforcement partners, and we’re working to reduce crime and put dangerous offenders behind bars. At the same time, we want to ensure that those who enter the justice system are able to contribute to their communities after they leave prison, which is one of many very difficult subjects we’re discussing, having to do with our great country.

The vast majority of incarcerated individuals will be released at some point, and often struggle to become self-sufficient once they exit the correctional system. We have a great interest in helping them turn their lives around, get a second chance, and make our community safe. Many prisoners end up returning to crime, and they end up returning to prison. Two-thirds of the 650,000 people released from prison each year are arrested again within three years.

We can help break this vicious cycle through job training — very important, job training — mentoring, and drug addiction treatment. And you know how we’re focused on drugs pouring into our country and drug addiction. It’s a big problem even as we speak of this subject. We’ll be very tough on crime, but we will provide a ladder of opportunity to the future....

My administration is committed to helping former inmates become productive, law-abiding members of society.

This Hill article about the meeting, headlined "Trump, Kushner meet with advocates on prison reform," includes quotes from advocates and lawmakers suggesting reasons for optimism and pessimism concerning possible federal legislative reforms moving forward after this notable meeting.

January 11, 2018 at 11:33 PM | Permalink


Prof. President Trump is the liar in chief. Even if what he says sounds reasonable, d not be fooled: we annot believe a word of it.

Posted by: Emily | Jan 12, 2018 9:37:27 AM

Honestly I wonder how much job training is really going to fix the problem. My experience has been that there are a lot of people coming out of prison looking for work that are skilled, have educations, and work histories -- the elephant in the room is that no one wants to hire felons.

Perhaps the government should get in the business of figuring out ways to prevent discrimination against those with records, or at least stop encouraging it by way of its laws and policies.

Posted by: Guy Hamilton-Smith | Jan 12, 2018 10:08:39 AM

What's notable about this?

Prison reform has become a big issue over the last 12 months? But first time he has said anything about it, even though it has been an issue for years/decades.

He said what everybody says. If Obama said the same thing, you'd call it disappointing.

Posted by: Paul | Jan 12, 2018 10:37:31 AM

What people from different parties say has to be put in proper perspective given who is saying it. That said, the professor's double standard regarding Obama was addressed by me in the past. There was an overcorrection. Won't repeat myself there.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 12, 2018 10:44:11 AM

Problem is that almost everybody involved from the most conservative to the most liberal agree on general banal statements of what the system needs to do. I don't think that you will have any liberal who would oppose improving public safety in a vacuum. Similarly, I don't think that you will have any conservative who would say that we should not consider what needs to be done to reduce the likelihood that prisoners will commit new offenses after their current sentences expire.

It is easy to make statements that we need to work on these things. The next step, however, is proposing a solution. Based on the last two years, the President tends to be big on making bold but vague statements and then leaving it to others to work out the details -- often taking conflicting positions when asked about the details. The good news is that he tends to leave things to Congress to work out the details which may make it easier to get consensus legislation. (There are studies that when a proposal becomes identified with the President, the proposal becomes partisan and it is harder to get the bipartisan support needed to pass legislation in the Senate.)

Posted by: tmm | Jan 12, 2018 11:03:04 AM

Paul, because Obama campaigned as a CJ reformer, a statement this tepid would be disappointing; because Trump campaigned on a tough-on-crime platform, this tepid statement is encouraging. I do not think it is a double-standard to judge everyone on the basis of the standard they set for themselves. (Also, did Obama have any pubic discussion in the White House in which he expressed support for CJ reform in his first year in office? Did he commute any sentences his first year?)

Ultimately, for both, words mean little absent action, as tmm suggests. Obama got a little done over 8 years, but not as much as it seems he hoped or promised in the CJ reform arena. Trump's record so far is not encouraging, but any comment in his first year suggesting he would be supportive of reform is itself encouraging.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 12, 2018 11:40:17 AM

As usual, with the government, little of significance will be done. If anything gets enacted, it will have marginal effect, such as a 5% difference. Outside of land use and bankruptcy laws, Trump does not know much about the law, and is not getting great advice from those around him. He is surrounded by pro-criminal advocates.

You want to improve prisons, make them more effective? Have no one want to return? Bring the lash. The decision to apply it, and the number should be done by an algorithm, written by the legislature, and owned by it. Maybe a robot can apply it for uniformity of force.

This effort is a show of false piety, appealing to members of the Democratic Party. He is wasting time, since nothing he does will change their hatred of him.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 12, 2018 12:29:04 PM

I don't wanna have a pubic discussion with either Trump or Obama.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jan 13, 2018 2:07:47 AM

Trump Effect. Best re-entry program, ever. That hate filled propaganda rag and unethical newspaper the NY Times does not say it. It says the tight labor market will end re-entry problems. Thank Trump for ending the re-entry problem.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 14, 2018 6:48:19 PM

Trump Effect. Black youth unemployment under Harvard Law radicalized Obama = 40%. Just a year later, under Trump? 16%. A job is the best remedy to poverty. Moving out of poverty is the best remedy to high crime rates. You will see a drop in black youth murder rates, from the Trump Effect.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 14, 2018 7:05:39 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB