President Trump held a second meeting within two weeks to discuss prison and sentencing reform. His aides are working with Congress on a compromise bill that would reduce some federal mandatory minimum sentences and attack recidivism. “People I would least suspect are behind it, 100 percent,” Trump said.
President Trump is pressing for prison reform while his administration privately works on an agreement with Congress that would overhaul a bigger swath of the criminal justice system but may rile tough-on-crime conservatives, the Washington Post reports. Trump hosted a roundtable Thursday with governors, state attorneys general and Cabinet officials on prison reform during his 11-day working vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. It’s the second week in a row in which Trump has held meetings on the issue. The administration and members of Congress are crafting an agreement that would add significant changes in mandatory sentencing laws to a widely popular prison reform bill that passed the House earlier this year.
During Thursday’s roundtable, Trump said the administration was working to “refine” the House-backed measure. “I have to say, we have tremendous political support. It surprises me. I thought that when we started this journey about a year ago, I thought we would not have a lot of political support,” Trump said. “People I would least suspect are behind it, 100 percent.” The deal in progress would add four provisions overhauling the sentencing system written by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) to the House bill, which does not touch sentencing laws but focuses on reducing recidivism. The new package would lower mandatory minimum sentences for drug felonies, including reducing the “three-strike” penalty from life behind bars to 25 years. It would retroactively apply the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduces the disparity in sentencing guidelines between crack and powder cocaine offenses. This applies to about 2,000 people. Trump will find resistance from within his own administration, as well as his closest allies on Capitol Hill. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has opposed changing mandatory minimum sentencing laws.