President Donald Trump said he is open to bipartisan sentencing reform provisions that will likely be added to a White House-backed prison reform bill after meeting with black pastors last week.
Last Wednesday, Trump met with a group of about 20 black pastors in the White House to discuss the importance of reforming the United States’ federal prison system and passing the Trump-backed FIRST STEP Act, which passed the House in May.
Later that same day, Trump met with four Republican senators who laid out a compromise to the FIRST STEP Act that would add four provisions to reform America’s flawed mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
Although the Trump White House has previously hinted that the president would not sign a bill that includes sentencing reform measures, a White House official told The Hill following Wednesday’s meeting with Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and three other senators that Trump is “positively inclined” toward the compromise proposal.
The White House source added that the president instructed the Republican senators to “do some work with your colleagues” and “let’s see where the Senate is and then come back to me with it.”
The compromise proposal comes after the FIRST STEP Act overwhelmingly passed the House with the support of over 134 Democrats. Congress members on both sides of the aisle got behind the fact that the bill would institute much-needed rehabilitation programs to help reduce recidivism in federal prisons.
However, the bill has stalled in the Senate. Critics of the bill feel it should include sentencing reform measures because there are thousands of non-violent drug offenders who are languishing in U.S. prisons due to disproportionate sentencing policies.
The comments reported by The Hill signal a shift in the president’s thinking when it comes to sentencing reform measures.
Heather Rice-Minus, the vice president of government affairs for the evangelical advocacy organization Prison Fellowship, told The Christian Post Tuesday that she believes Trump’s relationship with the faith community and his meetings with pastors has definitely influenced his thinking on the issue.
“Having him hear from those pastors and know that he would have the ability to impact some of their communities I am sure was in the front of his mind going into the meeting with Sen. Grassley and others who wanted to see a broader approach to justice reform,” Rice-Minus explained.
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Source: Christian Post