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Articles by Ed Chung

Why Prison Reform is Not Enough to Fix the U.S. Criminal Justice System

by Ed Chung, Center for American Progress

The Trump administration kicked off 2018 by expressing a surprising, newfound interest in reforming the country’s prisons and strengthening opportunities for those incarcerated to successfully re-enter their communities upon completion of their sentences. In mid-January, the White House convened a group of conservative governors and advocates for a roundtable discussion on prison reform, organized by President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The president also mentioned prison reform in his 2018 State of the Union speech, stating that “this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.” Most recently, the White House relaunched a task force initially established by former President Barack Obama – now rebranded as the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry – which comprises federal agencies to coordinate the federal government’s policies to reduce recidivism.

It is tempting to interpret these public statements as a commitment to criminal justice reform. In reality, however, they highlight how much the federal government’s leadership on this issue has diminished. Two years ago, the federal government was driving the national discussion not only on ...