Trump Urges Congress to Approve Major Criminal Justice Reform

Trump obstruction Comey FBI speech congress criminal justice reformPresident Trump is leading the charge towards meaningful criminal justice reform in the United States. In a White House event on Wednesday, the president announced his support for the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person (or FIRST STEP) Act—major legislation that would rewrite federal sentencing laws and improve our nation’s criminal justice system.

“Our whole Nation benefits if former inmates are able to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens,” said President Trump of the bill’s importance and its bipartisan support.

As nearly all incarcerated Americans will one day leave prison, the goal of the Trump administration and the FIRST STEP Act is to make sure they do not return.

This is ambitious, considering the country’s high recidivism rates: A 2016 US Sentencing Commission report estimated that 49.3 percent of federal offenders released in 2005 were arrested again within eight years. And as per a 2018 special report from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics examining released prisoners over a nine-year period, former prisoners remain involved in criminal activity both within and outside of the state where they were imprisoned.

According to the White House, the FIRST STEP Act will focus on lowering recidivism rates by promoting prisoner participation in “vocational training, educational coursework, or faith-based programs, and in turn help them successfully reenter society.” By giving prisoners the opportunity to gain job skills, President Trump is confident they will be better equipped to return to their communities as productive members of society.

We’re all better off when former inmates can receive and reenter society as law-abiding, productive citizens. And thanks to our booming economy, they now have a chance at more opportunities than they’ve ever had before. It is true. Our economy is so strong, that when people are getting out of jail, they’re actually able to find jobs,” the president said.

The bill also seeks to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, reduce the enhanced penalties for certain nonviolent repeat drug offenders, and would eliminate the three-strike mandatory life provision. Inmates convicted of numerous serious offenses— including violent crimes, child exploitation, and terrorism, would be excluded from taking advantage of the legislation’s incentives.

Likewise, the incentives would not reduce anyone’s sentence.

“The bill includes reasonable sentencing reforms while keeping dangerous and violent criminals off our streets. In many respects, we’re getting very much tougher on the truly bad criminals — of which, unfortunately, there are many. But we’re treating people differently for different crimes. Some people got caught up in situations that were very bad,” President Trump said.

He added, “If you look at Texas, if you look at Georgia, if you look at Mississippi and Kentucky and some other states that are known as being very tough — these are big supporters of what we’re doing.  And some of it has been modeled after what they’ve done. […] Americans from across the political spectrum can unite around prison reform legislation that will reduce crime while giving our fellow citizens a chance at redemption.  So if something happens and they make a mistake, they get a second chance at life.”

Currently, seven major police organizations, and hundreds of conservative leaders and organizations support the bill. It also enjoys extensive support from the faith community, with over 2,700 faith and evangelical leaders publicly backing the legislation.

Encouraging both chambers of Congress to approve this historic, bipartisan bill, President Trump has shown he is dedicated to making our communities safe, our economy robust, and our criminal justice system fair.

“Today’s announcement shows that true bipartisanship is possible. […] When Republicans and Democrats talk, debate, and seek common ground, we can achieve breakthroughs that move our country forward and deliver for our citizens,” the president said, adding, “It’s the right thing to do.”


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brooks epley
2 years ago

make prisaners work for there room and board do not make jail so inviting no free ride do not work do not eat no tv it is time to get tuff give them training and education to be better people when they get out

brooks epley
2 years ago

every one makes mistakes but three strikes your out terminate them if you have not learned by then you will never learn its time we got tuff protect good cittizons we need to protect our selves stand up for us stop crime do onto others as you want them to do to you

this is
3 years ago

I think the program is a good start and each case has to be evaluated for what it is and how to proceed with the sentencing and length of time in prison. True, some people will be tough to rehabilitate and will have to remain in prison, but a lot can be rehabilitated and with proper counseling can be taught courses so that they can re-enter society and become law-abiding citizens again. Some just need a second chance while the hard core ones will have to be incarcerated longer or permanently. The people working in the Penal system must also know their jobs thoroughly so they will know how to handle each case and not let anyone “fall through the cracks” who shouldn’t be released from prison. And they have to be objective about each and every case and not show any favoritism, as sometimes happens in prison between the prisoners and the guards. That way, our prisons won’t be over-loaded costing the tax payers billions of dollars, and the reformed prisoners can give back to society by being law-abiding citizens and earning their living. FIRST STEP could be a win-win situation for a lot of prisoners who just need a second chance at proving themselves to be worthy of staying out of prison.

Sharon Long
3 years ago
Reply to  this is

There is a lot of merit to what you are saying. But… There are always exceptions to the rule. Justice MUST be justice for all and it is not. When a high profile person is convicted of a crime and a regular John Doe is convicted of the same crime but the sentences are different because John Doe cannot afford a high priced lawyer, that is NOT justice. There is always the arguement of “extenuating circumstances” but when those are so minimal or not at all but just lawyer jargon, that changes the way a person is treated and sentenced. Those issues MUST also be evaluated and corrected. Just because one person can afford an expensive lawyer and another can only rely on a public defender the justice is lost.

Rose Marie
3 years ago

I AGREE 100%this will work! we need to do something now!!!!!!

3 years ago

I just watched American Violet (based on a true story), and was shocked to learn that blacks in poor communities are targeted for crimes they did not commit. If this bill passes, I hope this will fix that travesty. BTW, I’m a 73-year old white woman.

3 years ago


Peter Koteas
3 years ago

What we all have to agree on is justice is NOT always blind. Yes, I agree that dangerous felons and repeat offenders should be incarcerated simply because they have proven on multiple occasions they are not to be trusted to do the right thing upon release. Yet, at the same time, I have actually witnessed first-time offenders for relatively minor crimes, DUI without any loss of property or life, have their life completely destroyed by the system. Many employers have strict zero-tolerance policies that force the loss of job and all related benefits. Trying to find another one having the burden of being truthful harms that person indefinitely.

Being fair using policy in my mind simply means to treat every case and every person separate and alone on its merit.

3 years ago

Yeah, well, I’m still staying armed, and i encourage everyone else to stay so, or become so, and get training, especially for inside your home situations. Most felons didn’t become convicts because of dire circumstances, they did so because of an encouraging environment, or just to them its easier to make spending money, and a few because it seemed exciting. They closed down most prison farms and manufacturing facilities because of inside corruption or inmate’s “rights” were supposedly being violated making them get out of bed and do something productive with their time. Maybe those can be restarted, and a little quid pro quo applied to their sentence for work hours performed.

3 years ago

You would think the Black, Democrat, Congressmen would be all over this. They aren’t.

Mike D
3 years ago

This should be a unanimous bi-partisan no brainer approved piece of legislation before year end – We can only hope. Time to leave politics aside. This is a win-win for all.

Harry ward
3 years ago

Let’s give them a chance to be productive citizens, extend a hand up not out, perhaps a opportunity to gain self worth

3 years ago

Easy non taxable money in Gambling,prostitution,drugs and soon to be guns and some of our top people in government.The people who run these illegal business are laughing out loud and the money is not going into our countries banks.Great country are we not?

3 years ago

What really lacks in this country is an extensive civics curriculum mandatory throughout all the years spent in our educational system.. These issues and throw in mental illness for good measure not to mention planned parenting.. all could be reasonably addressed in a civics curriculum where civic duty, community and social compatibility could all be construed as objectives in public carriage and stature.. Teachers could draw in current events for the pragmatics and eventual empiricism in individual response to these issues. Also working closely with English departments to promote a vernacular appropriate for addressing certain issues more on the par with what is happening locally, nationally, and internationally. This would also assist students in developing a mature political voice with experiential authority the basis for more authoritative and honest opinions. For President Trump’s plan to work communities and the work force must be more receptive to the presence of these individuals.. Up until now their presence there if at all I’m sure is considered highly confidential since also highly controversial and apparently thought to be risky. So these individuals really should be expected to be developing a split personality.. not conducive to honest labor or community living.. There would be too many secrets if the public is not called upon to play a significant role in this change in their demographics…

3 years ago

These are issues which hit hard at community levels somewhat like immigration.. In addition to what The President is citing such as job training, and particularly interesting is the insightful linkage to faith-based organizations.. community involvement is required. There is a cultural (community) leap which has to be made in adjusting citizens minds to the realities instead of the idealism of the past. Idealism always reverts to bureaucratic and impersonal rationalizations regarding this phenomenon… that “it all looked good on paper”… when in reality community, and employer are not working with these reforms everything falls through because ex-cons may respond to the suggestive ostracism of the community because of the stigma of having been institutionalized and of course the corporate as well as job market culture specifically has tabooed hiring ex-cons for really superstitious reasons.. Being a good judge of character is waylaid by possible alarms and “as if’s” of cultural taboos, stigmas, and traumas.. Hopefully employers will be contacted by these agencies to educate as to the potential for cultural advancement that this “leap of faith” will entail..

3 years ago

We must change our prison system. When someone is released from prison, they have certain times they must see their parole officer. They must pay the parole officer over $50 each and every time. If the person does not have a job, they have no money. In trouble they are, again. Vicious circle. MUST CHANGE …

3 years ago

NOw we will see if Democrats are really interested in the good of our Nation or just out to get President Trump.

Thomas H
3 years ago
Reply to  Padro

They’re out to get Trump.

3 years ago

Its High Time these changes were made

Phyllis poole
3 years ago

Many who go back into the same environment go back to same thing that put them in prison. Family help and counseling for all of them might help but changing what put them in prison must be addressed

3 years ago
Reply to  Phyllis poole

What’s not being discussed is what put them in prison in the first place. For example, the motives of the offender are not even being touched upon. The problem with crime that people are hesitant to grapple with is that the criminal apparently feels obligated to “do the deed”.. In order for there to be true reform the process has to begin with the anti-social impulse wherein the conscience of the criminal is at ease with what he did. Apparently things like social pressures, Evil necessity, panic, exasperation, impatience, poor communication skills, social taboos and traumas superstitious beliefs, past precedents… so many issues that the criminals must ponder if amends are to be made to the victims and changes made in the communities.. so community involvement is essential and so-called victims must or should be called upon as to what part they played – not to blame the victim – in the order of somehow making the crime worthwhile….in other words giving the criminal a sense of satisfaction or achievement… From where I stand criminal activity socially is a veritable taboo no matter what it may be. To compound the problem we live in a very permissive society where often the “just don’t get caught” is the only deterrent.. For example.. stealing from an office supply cabinet.. or cheating on taxes via “trusted” tax preparer.. these are all “givens” and yet egregious crimes nonetheless and are happening under our noses and committed by otherwise pillars of the community… Not to mention the poor example of some of the leadership…ehi…

Pete from St Pete
3 years ago

You cannot force a person to reform; it has to come from within. You can provide counseling and job training for those who really do want to change their ways.
Mandatory minimums are required to protect the public from soft judges. I remember the case brought up by Bill O’reilly where the judge sentenced a man who raped a child probation. We cannot live with cases like that.
Second offenders should not be given the same lenient treatment as first offenders.

3 years ago

Although I’m all for these measures you bring up good points. In fact what good is sentencing at all if these people don’t see the errors of their ways.. so much so that I would even recommend unlimited sentencing for all cases provided that they take it upon themselves to reform.. This would take a team of personnel trained to evaluate the psychology and motives behind release as viewed by the inmate.. A big part of their reform however should be # 1 WHY was this deed perceived to be vital.. # 2 what could be done to reconnect to the individuals whose inevitable rights had been offended… That’s the key to reform and to stop treating the crime like some kind of taboo or trauma for the inmate as if too terrible to develop a balanced conscience.. That’s absurd. As if forgetting the whole thing makes for an innocent person.. there are compulsions, there is temptation, there is invitation to commit crimes as perceived by the doers.. all these issues must be addressed and untangled thoroughly if reform and rehabilitation are at all possible.. It’s a sure process.. and even obvious but like I said socially crime is practically treated like a superstitious taboo..

Mike D
3 years ago

I agree. But there are people who need guidance that are willing to have a chance to succeed. Too many young people will nothing to do getting into trouble. It’s all in how we are raised.

Mark Rosman
3 years ago

This falls under child exploitation which would not benefit. Are you ignorant?

3 years ago

I am wary. Generally, I have supported President Trump. But, while anything can be improved; I would remind Congress and President Trump that criminal behavior is a choice.
I hope that if this is done that hardened criminals are not released due a mishap.

3 years ago

The problem is the communities these people will return to and like you say it’s a choice so are these people developing the minimum in communication skills that it would take to develop that mature psychology of conscience to come to grips with the anti-social behaviors and find alternatives..??? Not likely, since the ex-con has to be his own advocate and ambassador in the community facing taboos, ostracism, discrimination, prejudice, superstition and even the individuals traumatized by like-minded individuals. This would take very sophisticated communication skills that I really doubt these people are acquiring in prison. On the positive note it’s astute for Trump to be insisting on a Faith-based initiative and linkage because yes that ultimately decides balanced conscience since conscience is a product of Spirituality there is the hope that this connection could be the decisive factor..

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