Trump has exposed Democratic hypocrisy on prison reform

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With so much media-manufactured controversy surrounding President Trump, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that our president possesses superpowers unlike any we have seen in his recent predecessors.

Trump can get Democrats to oppose virtually anything, even something they have supported for their entire careers, simply by coming out in favor of it.

{mosads}One example was on display last week when the president defied conventional wisdom and party stereotypes by holding a Prison Reform Summit at the White House. The purpose was to find ways to reduce recidivism and to help ex-offenders become employees and taxpayers instead of simply “felons.”


In holding this conference and starting on the serious and much needed path to reform, Trump once again showed that he is not beholden to conventional political paradigms. He has attempted to include in this process such diverse groups as elected Republicans, elected Democrats, the Koch brothers and even people from the entertainment world.

The concept has been driven by Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner who proposed a prison reform bill, in addition to an unlikely union between CNN commentator Van Jones and Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist.

Let me first add that I am loyal supporter of the president and his agenda, a member of the “base” of the conservative movement and more akin to members of the House Freedom Caucus than House leadership. My flavor of conservatism is that of Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). As a strong conservative I see this bill as a tremendous opportunity to advance the cause of smaller government, individual liberty, and to cut spending.

As reported by CNBC, the bill would “require the federal prison system to evaluate inmates after sentencing and provide services to help them avoid becoming repeat offenders, including drug treatment, job training and mental health counseling.”

Sound controversial? It shouldn’t. It should sound like common sense, but it doesn’t in a nation so divided that both sides are in the business of manufacturing argument.

Democrats were immediately outraged by this blatant attempt on the part of the president to take positive action on something for which they have long been in favor.  Rounding up the usual suspects, Rep. Sheila Jackson (D-Texas) and Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and other Democrats issued a statement urging Democrats to oppose Trump ideas because his plan does not yet speak to sentencing guidelines and requirements.

For a group that is supposedly so concerned with the unfairness of the American prison system, it’s some stunning hypocrisy. But it’s an example of Trump employing his mind-control power to make Democrats oppose something they previously supported.

The idea that serious people would oppose something that is a major step in the right direction simply because it isn’t everything they can imagine illustrates and exposes their true agenda; they don’t want to solve a problem for their constituents, they just want to have the problem to run on in the next election.

It continues. The rapper Meek Mill grabs a microphone anywhere he goes and rails against the unfairness of the criminal justice system. President Trump invited him to the summit so he would have a chance to contribute ideas and be part of the solution. Pressure from fellow rapper Jay-Z publicly shamed away Meek Mill from attending. You see, when Meek Mill gets a chance to sit down and attend a meeting with the president of the United States, who has the power to create change, he declines because it might hurt his record sales. Suddenly he is against something he was for, before he was against it.

The facts surrounding this are clear and the numbers are staggering. Right now, more than two million Americans are in prison, of which nearly 95 percent will eventually be released. This year alone, America will release almost 700,000 prisoners and if patterns hold, well over 50 percent will commit another crime and go back to prison. It is a sad truth that the people statistically most likely to commit a crime are the people who already served time for committing one.

From a math perspective, this is a no-brainer. The bill authorizes a mere $50 million annually to create the risk and assessment system and carry out anti-recidivism programs. On the other hand, the White House Council of Economic Advisors says that the reforms can save taxpayers $1.47 billion to $5.27 billion. For some further perspective, Congress appropriated $7.2 billion for the federal prison system in FY 2018. The authorization for this program would amount to 0.68 percent of that annual total. Considering the additional savings associated with reduced crime and recidivism, the bill will easily save taxpayer dollars. 

There are 183,881 inmates under Bureau of Prison custody held in federal prisons, with 54 percent under 40 years old. Of that population, 71 percent are serving sentences of 15 years or less, and 95 percent will be released at some time. Do we want to condemn those people to a revolving door of prison-to-release to prison-to-release? Do we want to try something else? Democrats have long wanted to. Until now, when they no longer want to because the president also wants to.

This recidivism comes at a great cost to society, and it leads to the complete and total ruination of the individual. Americans almost universally embrace the notion of redemption when it comes to fictional stories or celebrity downfalls. Conservatives have long had a weakness in this area when it comes to those convicted of a crime because of their reflexive “law and order” posturing. Trump is trying to help them get past that.

Democrats, social justice warriors, on the other hand, have no excuse. Their self-righteous professing of compassion for the least among us has been relentless and deafening. Presented with an opportunity to create meaningful change and make a real difference in the lives of real people, they balk. They posture, they protest, and they whine. Using his superpowers, President Trump has exposed them to be both dishonest and pathetic.

As a loyal Trump supporter, member of the conservative base, and grassroots organizer, I call on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to immediately bring this bill to the Senate floor for a vote and rally his members to pass the most impactful prison reform in American history.

Charlie Kirk (@CharlieKirk11) is the founder and president of Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit that aims to educate students on free-market values.

Tags Charlie Kirk Cory Booker Criminal justice Dick Durbin Donald Trump Donald Trump Jared Kushner Mike Lee Mitch McConnell Rand Paul Ted Cruz Thomas Massie

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