- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2018

President Trump is pushing a prison reform agenda that includes overhauling and expanding re-entry and work programs designed to give offenders a “second chance,” senior administration officials said Tuesday.

The focus on the nation’s prisoners is in keeping with Mr. Trump’s campaign pledge to champion America’s “forgotten men and women.”

“Few people who are more forgotten than people who are in prison,” an administration official said.

The effort will include an executive order Mr. Trump plans to sign Wednesday that will revamp the Federal Reentry Council and move it from the Justice Department into the White House, the officials said.

The White House also has send a framework for prison reform legislation to Congress. And officials said they were optimistic it will garner bipartisan support, saying the framework “hit the sweet spot.”

The White House decided to keep prison reform separate from sentencing reforms, which remains an issue that divides administration officials.

In the State of the Union address, Mr. Trump called on Congress to help former inmates get a second chance at becoming contributing members of society and avoid going back to jail.

The White House provided the following principles to guide Congress:

• Effectively use government resources to reduce crime, enhance public safety, and increase opportunity, thereby improving the lives of all Americans.

• Evaluate current incentives for participation in re-entry programs and develop improvements that tie successful completion of programming to incentives while incarcerated.

• Promote the successful re-entry of federal inmates through the evaluation and implementation of evidence-based recidivism reduction and re-entry programs.

• Enhance existing risk and needs assessment tools and classification processes to ensure all inmates are given access to recidivism reduction programs that meet their needs.

• Expand access to prison work programs to allow all eligible inmates who want to work to gain job skills while incarcerated and prepare for successful re-entry into society.

• Evaluate and facilitate public and private partnerships that improve pre- and post-release employment opportunities for inmates.

• Prioritize funding and support for federal programs that have proven to help reduce state prison recidivism.

“We believe we have put together principles that will be able to garner broad bipartisan support in Congress,” an official said.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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