Prison reform near the top of GOP agenda before mid-terms

The issue of prison reform came before the Republican mega donors meeting in the California desert this past weekend, and several lawmakers who spoke to attendees were confident that some kind of reform bill would be enacted before the November mid-terms.

Some Democrats have been trying to couple sentencing reform with the bi-partisan effort to help inmates re-assimilate back into society and cut down on the recidivism rate that sees up to three quarters of prisoners returning to jail within 5 years.

But sentencing reform is an entirely different issue and most GOP lawmakers believe it should be dealt with separately.

The Hill:

“I think it would be a great thing if we could pass prison reform and get it to the president’s desk,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the chief vote counter for the GOP majority in the Senate, told a group of donors affiliated with billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch on Saturday night.

“I’m more optimistic about that happening this year and in the next few months than I’ve ever been.”

Prison reform is a priority for the Koch network, which is holding its winter seminar in the California desert this weekend.

They’ve been working closely with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who has been spearheading the effort for the administration.

“They’re fully supportive and hopefully they can use the bully pulpit to support it,” said Mark Holden, the senior vice president for Koch Industries.

Earlier this month, Holden, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) met with President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the issue at the White House.

The president said he had a “great interest” in getting prison reform done and cited the need for job training, mentoring and drug addiction treatment for former inmates returning to society.

“We want to ensure that those who enter the justice system are able to contribute to their communities after they leave prison, which is one of many very difficult subjects we’re discussing, having to do with our great country,” Trump said at the time.

“The vast majority of incarcerated individuals will be released at some point, and often struggle to become self-sufficient once they exit the correctional system. We have a great interest in helping them turn their lives around, get a second chance and make our community safe."

Prison reform is a pet project of the Koch Brothers, whose network of donors plans to invest about $400 million in congressional races this year. 

Is it really possible to "reform" convicted felons? Certainly, there's a good chance that more ex-prisoners could become productive members of society with intervention in prison and more help once they get out. 

But no program known can "cure" anti-social personalities. Some of the symptoms can be treated with drugs, but the very nature of the disease precludes effective treatments. Those felons with ASPD are almost certain to get in trouble with the law again no matter how much counseling, how many drugs they get, or how much job training they receive.

Not all felons have ASPD, and for them, an improvement in opportunities once they leave prison might keep more of them from relapsing. Investing in some prison reforms will be a lot cheaper than re-incarceration, so in the long run, prison reform makes sense.

 

The issue of prison reform came before the Republican mega donors meeting in the California desert this past weekend, and several lawmakers who spoke to attendees were confident that some kind of reform bill would be enacted before the November mid-terms.

Some Democrats have been trying to couple sentencing reform with the bi-partisan effort to help inmates re-assimilate back into society and cut down on the recidivism rate that sees up to three quarters of prisoners returning to jail within 5 years.

But sentencing reform is an entirely different issue and most GOP lawmakers believe it should be dealt with separately.

The Hill:

“I think it would be a great thing if we could pass prison reform and get it to the president’s desk,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the chief vote counter for the GOP majority in the Senate, told a group of donors affiliated with billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch on Saturday night.

“I’m more optimistic about that happening this year and in the next few months than I’ve ever been.”

Prison reform is a priority for the Koch network, which is holding its winter seminar in the California desert this weekend.

They’ve been working closely with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who has been spearheading the effort for the administration.

“They’re fully supportive and hopefully they can use the bully pulpit to support it,” said Mark Holden, the senior vice president for Koch Industries.

Earlier this month, Holden, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) met with President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the issue at the White House.

The president said he had a “great interest” in getting prison reform done and cited the need for job training, mentoring and drug addiction treatment for former inmates returning to society.

“We want to ensure that those who enter the justice system are able to contribute to their communities after they leave prison, which is one of many very difficult subjects we’re discussing, having to do with our great country,” Trump said at the time.

“The vast majority of incarcerated individuals will be released at some point, and often struggle to become self-sufficient once they exit the correctional system. We have a great interest in helping them turn their lives around, get a second chance and make our community safe."

Prison reform is a pet project of the Koch Brothers, whose network of donors plans to invest about $400 million in congressional races this year. 

Is it really possible to "reform" convicted felons? Certainly, there's a good chance that more ex-prisoners could become productive members of society with intervention in prison and more help once they get out. 

But no program known can "cure" anti-social personalities. Some of the symptoms can be treated with drugs, but the very nature of the disease precludes effective treatments. Those felons with ASPD are almost certain to get in trouble with the law again no matter how much counseling, how many drugs they get, or how much job training they receive.

Not all felons have ASPD, and for them, an improvement in opportunities once they leave prison might keep more of them from relapsing. Investing in some prison reforms will be a lot cheaper than re-incarceration, so in the long run, prison reform makes sense.