Attorney General Jeff Sessions signed a memo reversing an Obama-era order that sought to limit the use of private prisons.
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WASHINGTON â€”Â President Trump still wants prisoners who did the crime to do the time. But he wants to give them a chance to get out early if they prove they deserve a break and are prepared to re-enter society.
Senior White House officials Tuesday outlinedÂ the president’s support forÂ a strategy to help rehabilitate federal inmates as opposed to just “warehousing people who have made mistakes” with little to encourage or ready them for life beyond their bars.
As part of the effort, Trump is expected to sign an executive order Wednesday that wouldÂ elevate the FederalÂ Interagency ReentryÂ Council back into the White House from the Department of Justice where it currently is housed.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the order has not been given.
And the White House Tuesday forwarded to key lawmakers a broad set of “principles” designed to guide Congress on the approaches the White House would support, including one that could get them into halfway houses and other re-entry programs sooner depending on their conduct behind bars.Â
Other principles include expanding access to prison work programs by inmates, improving evaluation of “evidence-based recidivism reduction and reentry programs,” and funding programs that have proven to help inmates find work once they re-enter society.
Tuesdayâ€™s announcement builds on a summit President Trump held last month with governors, faith leaders and conservative activists focused on programs to help prisoners re-enter the workforce and reduce the rate of recidivism.
“We will be very tough on crime, but we will provide a ladder of opportunity for the future,” Trump said at the time. “We can help break this vicious cycle.”
The move has been lauded by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., who has introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at giving federal prisoners incentives to help reduce the risk of re-offending when they are released.
The Redemption Act, which has drawn praise from the administration,Â would establish a post-sentencing risk- and needs-assessment system in federal prisons. The bill would enable the Bureau of Prisons to assign low-risk prisoners to serve the final portion of their sentences in halfway houses or home confinement.
Approximately 95% of people in state or federal prison will be released at some point, and two-thirds are rearrested for a new offense within three years, according to the administration.
The initiative comes in the wake of budget cuts to prison programs and last year’s decision by the Bureau of Prisons in November to cut fundingÂ for 16 halfway houses around the nation that help inmate transition to the outside world.
The presidentâ€™s 2019 proposed budget for the Bureau of Prisons provides approximately $739 million for reentry programming, including funding for education, career and technical training, substance abuse, and residential reentry centers.
In addition, through state and local assistance programs, the budget provides $48 million for the Second Chance Act Grant program â€œto reduce recidivism and help ex-offenders return to productive lives,â€ according to the budget.
The White House also is looking to spend about $500 million over five years, or about $100 million per year. Some of that money would be generated by the savings realized from having to house, feed and take care of fewer federal inmates, officials said.
The officials said Tuesday the decision to help prisoners re-enter societyÂ is not part of a larger, more controversial effort to reformÂ the criminal justice system by reducing minimum sentencing rules.
TheÂ bipartisan idea has the backing of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, but a number of lawmakers and some in the White House have yet to get behind such reforms.
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