Originally Posted on WashingtonExaminer.com
The White House Office of American Innovation, led by President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, hosted a roundtable on Thursday to discuss the reentry of formerly incarcerated individuals back into society.
According to a White House official, the purpose of the event was to learn the “best practices” on how to “assist prisoners with the difficult task of reentering society.”
Attendees of the bipartisan roundtable included representatives from Congress, faith-based organizations, and criminal justice reform groups, among others.
In addition to Kushner’s attendance, the White House official said White House director of Strategic Initiatives Christopher Liddell, Trump’s Intragovernmental and Technology Initiatives assistant Reed Cordish, and Andrew Bremberg, Trump’s assistant, and director of Domestic Policy Council, also were there.
“We will continue learning about this important issue in order to make credible recommendations to the president,” the White House official told the Washington Examiner.
Four members of Congress attended: Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta were also part of the roundtable, the official said. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback — both Republicans — represented the state-level effort.
Zach Terwilliger, the associate attorney general of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, represented Sessions and the department at the event. Patrick Bumatay of the Bureau of Pirsons and David Muhlhausen of the National Institute of Justice were also there.
Mark Holden, senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Koch Industries, told the Washington Examiner the mood of the entire event was “positive,” and described Kushner as “passionate” about prisoner reentry after watching his father, Charles Kushner, spend moe than a year in federal prison.
Holden said that while it wasn’t clear Kushner has spoken to the president about the need for broad criminal justice reform, there was agreement at the roundtable that prisoner reentry is the best place to start.
“He was taking copious notes throughout,” Holden told the Washington Examiner.
Holden said the feeling new criminal justice reform bills will be introduced into the Senate within the next few weeks.
The roundtable comes after major policy changes have been announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, including nixing an Obama-era policy that told federal prosecutors to avoid mandatory minimum sentences. Sessions has also directed more aggressive prosecutions of illegal immigrants.
These pushes result in an expected growth in the prison population — which, according to the Trump administration’s proposed budget, is expected to grow by 2 percent from 2017 to 2018.
Former President Barack Obama was the first president to leave office with a smaller prison population than when he arrived. Prison reform and re-entry were a large part of the former president’s policy initiatives in his final months in office.