Pollster sees 'opportunity' for GOP on criminal justice reform

Republican pollster Ed Goeas says the GOP has a chance to use criminal justice reform to improve how the party is perceived on issues like race relations and poverty.

"That is an opportunity for Republicans," Goeas, president and CEO at The Tarrance Group, told host Jamal Simmons in the interview aired Thursday on Hill.TV's "What America's Thinking."

"Republicans are doing a lot on that issue out across the country. The governors are doing a lot on that issue," he said. 

"That is going to help on attitudes on poverty, and about race relations," he added. "It will improve those areas if they do the right thing on criminal justice reform, which I think they are."

President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE signed a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, known as the First Step Act, late last year. 

The legislation reduces mandatory minimum sentences in certain cases and expands the use of "good time credits" for well-behaved prisoners looking for shorter sentences. 

Lawmakers in Florida's Republican-led state legislature passed a 296-page criminal justice reform bill last week, sending it to the governor for a signature.

The legislation makes it easier for felons to obtain professional licenses and allows state attorneys to determine whether juvenile cases should be taken up in adult courts while lessening or getting rid of criminal penalties tied to driver’s license suspensions. 

— Julia Manchester