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Thread: Sessions and Kushner Square Off, and Prisoners Hang in the Balance

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    Sessions and Kushner Square Off, and Prisoners Hang in the Balance

    Sessions and Kushner Square Off, and Prisoners Hang in the Balance

    By MATT APUZZO MARCH 28, 2018



    A federal prison in Butner, N.C. The United States has the world’s largest prison population. Credit Sara D. Davis/Getty Images WASHINGTON — In the final months of the Obama administration, the Justice Department announced a new approach to preparing prisoners for life beyond their cells. Officials created a prison school system, pledged money for technology training and promised to help prevent former inmates from returning to prison.

    Almost immediately after taking office, Trump administration officials began undoing their work. Budgets were slashed, the school system was scrapped and studies were shelved as Attorney General Jeff Sessions brought to bear his tough-on-crime philosophy and deep skepticism of Obama-era crime-fighting policies.

    Now, nearly a year and a half later, the White House has declared that reducing recidivism and improving prisoner education is a top priority — echoing some of the very policies it helped dismantle.

    This whiplash approach to federal prison policy reflects the tension between Jared Kushner, the president’s reform-minded son-in-law and senior adviser, and Mr. Sessions, a hard-liner whose views on criminal justice were forged at the height of the drug war. It has left both Democratic and Republican lawmakers confused and has contributed to skepticism that the Trump administration is serious about its own proposals.
    On Capitol Hill, a wholesale reconsideration of American sentencing laws and prison policies has bipartisan support. Dozens of senators have sponsored a bill to change mandatory-minimum sentences and ease drug laws that have been used to seek lengthy sentences for nonviolent offenders. The bill also includes provisions to expand education, worker training and drug rehabilitation programs in prison.

    Mr. Kushner, administration officials say, supports such sweeping change. Mr. Sessions is adamantly opposed. The two men reached a compromise in recent months: Mr. Kushner could push for the prison changes, but Mr. Sessions would position the administration strongly against a broader overhaul.

    In a letter to Congress last month, Mr. Sessions excoriated the bill, predicting it “would reduce sentences for a highly dangerous cohort of criminals, including repeat dangerous drug traffickers and those who use firearms.”



    Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s hard-line views on criminal justice were forged at the height of the drug war. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

    The letter enraged the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Republican chairman, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa. Twenty-five senators, split nearly evenly between the two parties, have sponsored his bill, which reform advocates in both parties regard as the best chance to undo the strict laws that contribute to the United States containing the world’s largest prison population.
    Mr. Sessions promised last fall that he would work with the Senate to address those laws. “We’ve never had any dialogue since,” said Mr. Grassley, one of Mr. Trump’s most important Capitol Hill allies during his first year in office. “I resent the president not helping me more, when I worked so hard to push along his judicial nominees.”

    Instead, the White House is backing Mr. Kushner’s push to overhaul just prisons. “We can change the way the country thinks about prison and the job of prisons in this country,” he said during an interview in the West Wing. “I think that will save a lot of lives.”
    The White House released seven principles it hopes to see in legislation. Some are specific, like expanding job-training programs in prison. Others are purely generic: “Effectively use government resources to reduce crime, enhance public safety and increase opportunity, thereby improving the lives of all Americans.”

    Mr. Kushner’s father served prison time for tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign donations. His son has convinced advocates for an overhaul, even those who are not natural allies, that he personally cares about the issue.

    “I do believe that Jared Kushner is earnest in his desire for criminal justice reform,” said Inimai M. Chettiar, of the liberal-leaning Brennan Center for Justice. “But Jeff Sessions is still stuck in 1980. He hasn’t moved along with everyone else, including top prosecutors and police chiefs, who realize that tough-on-crime doesn’t work.”

    Ms. Chettiar said she was not convinced that Mr. Kushner’s support was enough to get the administration behind real change — even in the narrow area of prisons.

    The Justice Department said Mr. Sessions fully supported the White House principles and was committed to helping inmates develop the skills needed to return to society. But Mr. Sessions is not rushing to promote those efforts: Over two weeks, the Justice Department refused to make anyone available to discuss them and would not identify which prison education programs have been cut and which remain.


    Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, wants the Trump administration to look to states for proven ideas to reduce recidivism. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

    “They’re not going to talk to you about this,” said Joe Rojas, a teacher at the federal prison complex in Coleman, Fla. He said the Justice Department could not answer those questions without acknowledging that the Trump administration had cut more than 6,000 prison jobs.
    Staffing is so short that teachers around the country are regularly reassigned to cover routine guard duties, he said.

    One of the White House priorities is to offer incentives to encourage inmates to enroll in programs to prepare them for life outside prison. Mr. Rojas and others are quick to note that incentives are not the problem: Educational programs are so popular that more than 15,000 federal inmates are on waiting lists for high school equivalency diploma and literacy programs, according to a 2016 Justice Department report.

    “It sounds pretty on paper,” said Mr. Rojas, who is the president of his American Federation of Government Employees union local. “But when you cut staff, you can’t do anything.”

    Administration officials say it is unfair to view the White House initiative through a lens of what has been cut. Mr. Kushner got involved only after those cuts were made. As for broader overhaul efforts, he has made his case to advocates that it is better to address prison problems than do nothing.

    And some longtime advocates agree, even if begrudgingly. Koch Industries, for example, lobbied hard for sweeping criminal justice changes, including more lenient sentencing. But Mark Holden, the group’s general counsel, said he saw an opportunity to improve prisons — even if it was not everything advocates wanted.

    “This is something that pretty much everyone agrees with, so let’s start where there’s a consensus and build,” he said.
    Mr. Grassley said that he while appreciated Mr. Kushner’s desire to get something done, he did not support any effort to try to address prisons without fixing what he saw as fundamental unfairness in sentencing laws. And he believes Mr. Kushner shares his views. “But he sees a chance of getting half a loaf, and he’s willing to settle for a half a loaf,” Mr. Grassley said. “I’m not going to.”

    The White House argues that Mr. Grassley’s argument is moot because the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, will not allow a vote on a broad criminal justice bill that divides Republicans.

    Mr. Grassley sees that as an excuse. “If the president would start tweeting about it every other day like he tweets about everything else, McConnell would come along,” he said.

    Mr. Kushner believes that the White House can forge consensus around prison reform. He wants the federal government to look to states for proven ideas to reduce recidivism. The White House recently hired Brooke Rollins, a conservative lawyer who advocated such changes in Texas, a state that is often held up by both conservatives and liberals as a leader in reducing recidivism.

    Amy Lopez, a former teacher in the Texas prison system, agreed that the federal government could learn from states. More data exists than ever before, she said, and it shows that education reduces the chance that a former inmate will be arrested again.

    The Justice Department hired Ms. Lopez in 2016 to replace the patchwork prison education system with a centralized school district that offered diplomas, technology training and vocational education.
    “It was interesting to have this focus at the federal level on education,” she said. “That was new.”
    Within months, she was fired, the school system axed. She took a job overseeing education in Washington’s city corrections system.

    Trump administration officials say that, as part of the new focus on prisons, if the school idea turns out to have been a good one, they can always reconsider it.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/28/u...T.nav=top-news

  2. #2
    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    People get education ON-LINE now. Much cheaper.

    Help them that way.

    And low risk prisons should be able to volunteer to WORK and get a small allowance for it that is put in an account when they are released. Many have children to support and that money should be given for that as well.

    Go back to chain gang allowing them to harvest crops, clean up freeways, paint graffiti, etc.
    TO BECOME AN AMERICAN YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR VALUES ...NOT YOUR LOCATION

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    MW
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    I don't know if I'm in the minority or not, but I honestly don't give a tinkers damn what Jared Kushner wants or thinks! For me, he lost credibility as a Trump advisor long ago. Go home Ivanka and Jared!
    artist likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beezer View Post
    People get education ON-LINE now. Much cheaper.

    Help them that way.

    And low risk prisons should be able to volunteer to WORK and get a small allowance for it that is put in an account when they are released. Many have children to support and that money should be given for that as well.

    Go back to chain gang allowing them to harvest crops, clean up freeways, paint graffiti, etc.
    No benefits for illegal aliens in federal prisons, no education, no work, make it hard and rough and tough and deport them the day their time is up or sooner if you can. For American citizens, I support prison education and work programs so long as they don't want to become activists or lawyers, but really want to learn a skill for businesses so they can get a good job when they get out like roofing, carpentry, welding, and more.
    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
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    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    No benefits for illegal aliens in federal prisons, no education, no work, make it hard and rough and tough and deport them the day their time is up or sooner if you can. For American citizens, I support prison education and work programs so long as they don't want to become activists or lawyers, but really want to learn a skill for businesses so they can get a good job when they get out like roofing, carpentry, welding, and more.
    Nothing for illegals but the BOOT!

    But I would rather American citizens who are prisoners be given on-line courses to get their GED or some other education training courses in hospitality or some minimal education videos to get them jobs when they get out. No high paid teachers...on-line course to keep them busy all day. The DVD's can be shared and used over and over again.
    Judy likes this.
    TO BECOME AN AMERICAN YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR VALUES ...NOT YOUR LOCATION

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  6. #6
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Oh I totally agree.
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    I honestly don't give a tinkers damn what Jared Kushner wants or thinks! For me, he lost credibility as a Trump advisor long ago. Go home Ivanka and Jared!
    NYT trying to give him some credibility, another story last week depicted how kushner is mending fences with mexico for the admin.

    Wonder what the pic with the 2 saudis has to do with the story? Or the bad pic of Sessions? Well we can put 2 & 2 together. Journalism today is poor even by once leading medias for news.
    Last edited by artist; 03-28-2018 at 05:53 PM.
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    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    I don't disagree with Kushner wanting to have some programs to rehabilitate prisoners and prepare them for the work force. Trump has talked about this, he even included in some remarks at one of this rallies or somewhere in recent weeks. How applicable that is to federal prisoners, not sure, but I would like to see more done by the states in this regard. But as artist pointed out, what does the pic of Kushner and 2 Saudis have to do with the article? Very strange.
    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
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    Almost 25% of federal prisoners ARE ILLEGAL ALIENS - we are supposed to rehab them?

    DHS: 23% of all federal prisoners are illegals, just 7 of 42,034 saved from deportation

    by Paul Bedard
    August 09, 2017 08:59 AM

    Eduardo Maquitico-Guerrero, 40, was turned over to Mexican authorities May 4 at the international boundary on top of El Paso's Stanton International Bridge. He was one of thousands
    of illegals held in federal jails. ICE Photo

    Nearly one-quarter of all federal inmates are illegal immigrants and virtually all are in deportation proceedings or already face removal orders, according to a new Homeland Security report.

    The Justice Department's Bureau of Prisons, fulfilling a presidential executive order requiring transparency on prisoner immigration status, said that it houses 187,855 inmates of which 42,034 are foreign born.

    The DHS report said that only seven of those 42,034 have been granted deportation "relief." According to DHS:


    • 19,749 (46.9 percent) are aliens who have received final orders of removal.
    • 21,121 (50.2 percent) are aliens who are under ICE investigation for possible removal.
    • 1,157 (2.8 percent) are aliens whose cases are pending adjudication before an Immigration Judge in the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR).
    • 7 (.0002 percent) are aliens who have been granted relief.

    Homeland also said that the U.S. Marshal Service has a similar breakdown in its cells. Of 50,135 they've detained, 12,005 "self-report" as illegals. They are all in some type of deportation proceeding:


    • 9,857 (82.1 percent) are aliens who have received final orders of removal.
    • 2,047 (17.1 percent) are aliens whose cases are still pending adjudication before an immigration judge in the EOIR.
    • 101 (.8 percent) are aliens still pending adjudication (U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has charged these aliens as removal cases, but a final disposition has not yet been reached.)

    According to experts the percentage of prisoners who are illegal immigrants is down slightly, but still remain a significant population.
    Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, said "For a long time the number of non-citizens serving time in federal prison has been disproportionate to their share of the population. This is because a disproportionate number are border-related crimes, such as human smuggling and drug trafficking, and some are immigration offenders. These crimes are most often committed by citizens of other countries, and these numbers show why we need to control our borders."

    Under Trump, she added, the percentage is likely to go higher.

    She also said that the numbers show that illegal immigrants with criminal records need to go. Vaughan told Secrets:
    "This does not mean that non-citizens are more criminal than Americans, but it does mean that they clearly are not less criminal, and that there are certain crimes that are more closely associated with non-citizens, and certain crimes that are taking place because we do not have a secure border. When we do, and when all criminal aliens are deported instead of released, then the proportion of non-citizens in federal prison will go down."

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/d...om-deportation


    Last edited by artist; 03-29-2018 at 05:03 PM.
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    They need to booted out, let their country incarcerate them!
    TO BECOME AN AMERICAN YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR VALUES ...NOT YOUR LOCATION

    STAY HOME AND BUILD AMERICA ON YOUR SOIL

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