WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday his administration had “great interest” in reforming the nation’s mass incarceration system to focus more on prisoner rehabilitation and job training programs.
Trump held a roundtable discussion on prison reform at the White House, telling a group of Republican lawmakers, criminal justice advocates, conservative fiscal groups and faith leaders: “We’ll be very tough on crime, but we will provide a ladder of opportunity to the future.”
The president convened the meeting as part of a push by Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, to focus on initiatives that will curb recidivism rates. Kushner is looking to expand job training and mentoring programs aimed at helping inmates reintegrate into society.
“We support our law enforcement partners, and we’re working to reduce crime and put dangerous offenders behind bars,” Trump said. “At the same time, we want to ensure that those who enter the justice system are able to contribute to their communities after they leave prison, which is one of many very difficult subjects we’re discussing, having to do with our great country.”
Kushner, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Gov. Matt Bevin (R-Ky.) and Gov. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) were among those at the meeting to collect ideas on improving a correctional system that houses some 2 million U.S. inmates.
“This is a listening session, and we’re going to continue working through this process,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at Thursday’s daily briefing.
Sessions told the group the administration was “committed to doing a better job on re-entry programs and job training programs.”
Brownback touted mentoring programs in Kansas that pair ex-prisoners and professionals, saying the programs have cut recidivism rates among participants.
“Most people, when they come out of prisons, they don’t have many relationships that are reliable,” Brownback said.
Also Thursday, Trump told reporters at The White House that he be “surprised” if he didn’t pass his first physical exam as president scheduled for Friday.
“It better go well, otherwise the stock market will not be happy,” Trump said, responding to questions about the physical slated to occur at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Sanders told reporters the president will be examined by presidential physician Ronny Jackson. The White House will release a statement on the results on Friday, followed by a more detailed news conference with Jackson on Tuesday.