By: Tara Debek
In the recent State of the Union address, Donald Trump said that, “this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.”
But what does the future of prison reform under the Trump administration really look like?
The Trump administration has been open about wanting to tackle one aspect of prison reform: reducing recidivism and promoting better post-prison rehabilitation programs.
So far, the administration has been working with the Charles Koch Institute, an educational organization committed to reforming areas like sentencing, overcriminalization, and recidivism. Since 2015, the Koch network has put millions of dollars into rallying Republicans and Democrats to work together on criminal justice reform.
This is not a Trump-specific effort led by conservative players. We are in a position to have effective reform with bipartisan support.
Reentry and recidivism are vitally important aspects of prison reform, as One by 1, Inc. Founder/CEO Eddie Ellis, Jr. has spoken about regularly since returning home. However, in order to have effective prison reform, we need to look at the whole picture. This includes tackling issues like policing practices, sentencing and providing resources during incarceration to build the skills and tools needed to successfully reenter society.
While Trump has made a mirage of vague but optimistic promises for prison reform, he continues to build a narrative linking violent crime to immigrants. Immigration patterns with communities, including Latino immigrants, have little to no relationship with violent crime. Trump’s rhetoric does not inspire hope.
Developing recidivism programs is a step towards a better system. It is too early to tell what prison reform will look like in the Trump era and what the potential drawbacks and long-term ramifications will be. But without addressing the full spectrum of issues in the criminal justice system, no reform can effectively fix post-incarceration issues.
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