Trump Promotes Prisoner Re-Entry Assistance

WASHINGTON (AP) -
trump prison reform
President Donald Trump speaking in the East Room of the White House, Thursday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Donald Trump is continuing his work on prison reform by promoting efforts to help those leaving prison get jobs and stay on track.

At an East Room event Thursday attended by Cabinet secretaries, activists and formerly incarcerated people, the president announced the creation of a new ride-sharing partnership that will give former prisoners gift cards to help them get to and from job interviews, work and family events.

The FIRST STEP Act — a rare bipartisan victory in hyperpartisan Washington — which Trump signed into law at the end of 2018, included measures to reduce the sentences of thousands of prisoners and expand job training programs to decrease recidivism rates and relaxed the “three strikes” rule.

More than 1,000 federal inmates have had their sentences reduced thanks to the legislation, according to a recent report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission this month.

The White House has since been working with various companies, advocacy groups and federal agencies to try to give prisoners released early the tools and jobs they need to successfully adjust to life outside prison so they don’t wind up behind bars again.

Trump has embraced the efforts originally pushed by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to make changes to the criminal-justice system, using them to highlight the low unemployment rate and paint himself as a president focused “on lifting up all Americans.”

In addition to the ride-share vouchers — a Lyft spokeswoman later confirmed it was the partner involved — Trump announced several other measures, including stepped-up efforts by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to work with businesses to help line up jobs for those being released and additional funds for states to support companies that hire former inmates. He said his administration hopes to cut the unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people to single digits within five years.

“Now we must make sure that the Americans returning from prison get a true second chance,” he said.

Also attending the event was Trump’s departing press secretary, Sarah Sanders, whose surprise resignation Trump announced by tweet just before it started. Trump invited Sanders up onstage midway through the proceedings.