The White House gave lawmakers the go ahead on legislative efforts to strengthen reentry programs for prisoners. The Trump administration made recommendations based on what has worked to reduce recidivism throughout the states, such as more prison work programs and encouraging businesses to hire former offenders.
A state that knows this better than most is Kentucky, where Gov. Matt Bevin has worked to reduce employment barriers. The Governor’s goal is to provide second chances for offenders who have served their time and are ready to return as productive members of society. Studies show that former offenders who are able to find meaningful work are less likely to reoffend. Reducing barriers to employment, such as burdensome occupational licensing laws, increases the field of opportunity for former offenders to pursue a productive path. Earlier this week, the administration met with Gov. Matt Bevin, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and a number of businesses to discuss the challenges and benefits of hiring people who have criminal records.
President Trump first signaled support of second chances in his State of the Union address earlier this year. It was in this speech that Trump announced his administration would “embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance at life.” Since then, he and his advisors have acted on that support by hosting a number of meetings with governors, criminal justice reform experts, and advocates from the faith community to determine the strongest solutions to fight recidivism. Former Attorney General of Virginia and Right on Crime Signatory, Ken Cuccinelli, voiced optimism for reforms passing this session. “The message I took from the meeting at the White House on criminal justice reform is that they have come up with a set of reforms to our prison and re-entry system that the President himself is enthusiastic about and that the American people will appreciate and support.”