|President Donald J. Trump joined the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum in South Carolina last Friday, where he accepted a prestigious honor for his part in advocating for and signing the groundbreaking First Step Act.
“After years of waiting, we assembled a historic coalition . . . After all of the work and effort, we passed the bill and I proudly signed it into law — the most significant criminal justice reform in many generations.”
Washington has a long track record of broken promises to the American people, but few are more significant than its collective failure to reform our criminal justice system. Unlike career politicians, however, President Trump likes taking action—not sitting around, playing the blame game, and merely hoping for a change someday.
“My goal has been to give a voice to the voiceless and to make Washington see and hear those who have been made to feel silent and to feel invisible,” the President said. That vision includes ALL Americans, from struggling manufacturing workers in small towns to former prisoners who have been trapped in a cycle of unemployment and recidivism.
Signed into law in 2018, the FIRST STEP Act brought common-sense reforms that delivered fairer sentencing rules and helped former inmates successfully return to society.
How did it happen? Real presidential leadership, for one. “And we rallied activists, and faith leaders, and law enforcement, and lawmakers alike. We worked across party lines very strongly,” President Trump said. “The FIRST STEP Act proved that we can achieve amazing breakthroughs when we come together as a nation and we put the interests of our citizens before the interests of any political party.”
What came next was equally important. The Trump Economy has delivered better opportunities for millions of American workers, and former prisoners who turned their lives around should be no exception. “My administration is working vigorously to remove barriers to re-entry and to encourage second-chance hiring,” the President said.
“When we say ‘Hire American,’ we mean all Americans. Every single American.”
The President is backing up those words with action across his Administration. The Department of Education is expanding an initiative that allows individuals in prison to receive Pell Grants to better prepare themselves for the workforce. The Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons launched a new “Ready to Work” initiative to help connect employers directly with former prisoners, and the Labor Department awarded $2.2 million to states to expand bonds that support companies hiring former inmates.
“After decades of bitter disappointments and betrayals from Washington . . . my Administration is making a decisive break with the failures of the past,” he said.
“We’re keeping our promises. We’re solving problems, righting wrongs, and boldly confronting injustices—wherever and whenever we find them.”
Unlike past leaders, President Trump delivered real justice reform.
Read: The President’s full remarks at the Second Step forum