Brownback pitches prison mentoring in White House meeting

President Trump Takes On Prison Reform Efforts

President Trump Takes On Prison Reform Efforts

President Trump campaigned on a promise of law and order.

At a roundtable with policy experts and elected officials, Trump expressed a desire to "break this vicious cycle" of inmates turning to crime when their lives outside prison prove too hard.

The extent of White House support for reform was in dispute.

"Two-thirds of the 650,000 people released from prison each year are arrested again within three years", Trump said.

"We have a great interest in helping them turn their lives around, get a second chance and make our communities safe", Trump said at the White House.

But Congress has failed to act on broader measures that would cut prison terms for drug offenders.

Trump discussed potential changes to the prison system with lawmakers and Cabinet members at Camp David earlier in the month.

Still, it's not clear the Senate leadership will want to address the issue in 2018, a midterm election year. Wednesday's White House event built on similar listening sessions held by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, who discussed the issue at a dinner with a bipartisan group of lawmakers at Kushner and Ivanka Trump's Washington home past year.

Mark Holden of the conservative Freedom Partners came away from the meeting with a sense of optimism.

"I saw some passion there", Holden said. Sam Brownback, Texas Public Policy Foundation President Brooke Rollins and Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union.

"I really think the White House is looking at lots of different avenues forward", from congressional action to executive orders, Rollins said.

Sessions has directed the nation's federal prosecutors to pursue the toughest charges possible against suspects in most cases, a move that is expected to drive up the federal prison population at a time when it had been falling.

Sessions attended the White House meeting Thursday, when he suggested he might be open to compromise on modest ideas such as job training. Inmates in that program, he said, return to prison at half the rate others do.

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