White House Prison Reform Efforts Supported by Initial Findings by a Florida State University Research Project

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The Trump White House has made their crime-fighting policy platform expand to pushing for prison and sentencing reform. The White House released its prison reform principles, which emphasize working with inmates to acquire marketable work skills after their release. The administration claimed that these principles will help former prison inmates re-enter the workforce and society and integrate, instead of committing crime and returning to prison.

Generation Opportunity, a Koch-affiliated free-market organization geared toward Millennials, issued a statement supporting the White House principles. The organization’s policy director, David Barnes, said:

“The White House is taking a sensible approach to keeping our neighborhoods and communities safer while giving those who have served their time a second chance. Since the vast majority of inmates will eventually be released, it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that young Americans are better off after leaving prison than they were when they got in. We are pleased with the White House’s leadership on this critical issue and look forward to working with this administration and Congress to make substantial reforms to our prison system.”

A Florida State University research project on inmate re-entry, led by Carrie Pettus-Davis, points out that the U.S. recidivism rate (or number of former prison inmates committing crimes and being put back into the prison system) within three years of release from prison is 70%, a figure far higher than Germany’s 33% recidivism rate. In her USA Today opinion editorial, she said that over 100,000 former inmates are released from prison each week and struggle to adjust to civilian life.

Pettus-Davis’s research was funded by a grant from the Charles Koch Foundation and her re-entry research project will focus on Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Pennsylvania’s prison reform initiatives and how they could apply to other states.