Washington, DC – The East Room of the White House was full of energy of the positive way forward and heartfelt gratitude as President Donald Trump hosted a summit Monday (April 1) evening celebrating the First Step Act. The law was hailed by President Trump in his State of the Union address this year as proof that the US “believes in redemption.”
The bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, approved in December by lawmakers, found support from hardline conservatives and left-leaning liberals alike.
Addressing a select audience of a few hundred people including released felons, President Trump said, “Today I’m announcing that the Second Step Act will be focused on successful reentry and reduce unemployment for Americans with past criminal records and that’s what we’re starting.”
Earlier with the First Step Act coming into force, the hope emerged for prisoners, to rejoin the society by shortening their sentences, particularly for nonviolent drug offenses, especially those who exhibit good behavior.
President Trump told the audience that now, “non-violent prisoners will have 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.”
Trump highlighted that the law now “ensures that those in prison are placed closer to their families and home communities so they can have that communication that they need, greatly easing their return to society.”
Trump welcomed on stage people who had been released earlier because of the First Step Act and claimed that since he signed the First Step Act, more than 16,000 inmates have enrolled in drug treatment programs.
Among those who were called upon by the President Trump as examples of benefactors of the four month old law, Alice Johnson thanked God and the President but went on to say, “I also want to thank the media for being so kind to me.” Amid laughter and applause in the room, Johnson continued, “Because you have really — you have really helped magnify my story.” President Trump, who has used some choice words for media over the months, quipped amid laughter: “Are you sure?
President Donald Trump talked of steps to help inmates find jobs after they are released from prisons noting that Americans with criminal backgrounds have a higher unemployment rate than the national average.
Among the people in the audience, President Trump acknowledged were Attorney General William Barr, Cabinet Members Ben Carson and Rick Perry; Senators Chuck Grassley, Bill Cassidy, Mike Lee, Rob Portman, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Roger Wicker; Member of Congress Doug Collins, Josh Gottheimer, Tom Reed, in addition to many governors plus faith and law enforcement leaders.
Commending him for working “tirelessly on this project,” President Trump called on Jared Kushner, for getting “there with flying colors, because he believes, and a lot of other people believe — both conservative and liberal.” Later President Trump also called his daughter and senior advisor Ivanka Trump to stand up and be acknowledged.