by Scott Grammer
On April 1, 2019, President Donald Trump hosted ex-federal prisoners at the White House for the 2019 Prison Reform Summit and First Step Act Celebration. He said he wants to promote efforts that help federal prisoners find jobs after they are released. The President noted that people with criminal records face unemployment rates five times the national average of 3.8 percent.
“When we say ‘hire American,’ we mean all Americans, including former inmates who have paid their debt to society,” he declared.
President Trump said a “Second Step Act” would focus on “successful re-entry and reduced unemployment for Americans with past criminal records,” with a goal of cutting unemployment rates for ex-prisoners to the single digit range within five years. The White House reported that Trump’s budget for the next fiscal year proposes more than half a billion dollars for helping ex-prisoners succeed.
The President also stated during his speech that the First Step Act gives non-violent prisoners “opportunities to participate in vocational training, education, and drug treatment programs. When they get out of prison, they will be ready to get a job instead of turning back to a life of crime.” [See: PLN, April 2019, p.1; Jan. 2019, p.34].
He added, “And I’m really – I’m thrilled to report that, since I signed the First Step Act, more than 16,000 inmates have already enrolled in drug treatment programs. And my administration intends to fully fund and implement this historic law. It’s happening, and it’s happening fast. And it’s a lot for some people to understand. As soon as they understand it, they say, ‘Wow, why didn’t we do this a long time ago?’”
One of the ex-prisoners who attended the White House gathering was Gregory Allen, who was released under the First Step Act after serving eight years of a 20-year federal prison sentence.
“Two months ago, I was in a prison cell,” he said. “Now I’m in the White House.”
Sources: usnews.com, whitehouse.gov, washingtontimes.com
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