tv White House Summit on Criminal Justice Policy CSPAN May 19, 2018 2:42am-3:25am EDT
the energy secretary, rick perry. this is just over 40 minutes. >> [applause] mr. kushner: thank you. and before we begin, i just want to send our thoughts and prayers to the people of santa fe, especially with the first responders and the administrators dealing with the tragedy. reports are still coming in. i want to thank everyone for being with us here today to discuss this important topic that is personal to a lot of people. i was given the task -- a bunch of jobs, but one was to introduce the vice president. something happened where i found someone that is more qualified to do it. who isto call up hannah
going to join me in doing this. during the campaign, when i was able to spend a lot of time with the vice president, this was one of the first issues we spent a lot of time talking about. what he has done in the state of indiana really was remarkable and was a model for other states doing great work. the vice president will join us to discuss some of those issues but i'm going to leave it to hannah who is a real star today. [applause] hannah: good morning. thank you. it is an honor to be here with all of you. words cannot describe how grateful i am to see everyone here talking about a topic so close to my heart. i used to have a dream. that i was with my dad but we were surrounded with metal fences. it was not until i was nine that my mom told me that my dad had gone to prison. it was not a dream but a childhood memory. it turns out i am not the only , one having to visit a mom or a dad in prison.
there are 10 million other kids in america who have had the same memory. all these kids want is to come home from school and talk about their day. to have their mom or their dad at their ballgame or to hear them read a bedtime story and get a good night kiss. incarceration has many negative impacts for children and families. and it sets children up in a vicious cycle. these children are six times more likely to be incarcerated as adults. children whose parents suffer from addiction are eight times more likely to become addicted when they are adults. they are also much more likely to grow up in poverty. it makes you wonder -- how can we break the cycle? as a kid, it is very confusing to watch grown-ups fight about politics instead of helping people and solving the problems. that is why it is so meaningful that we are all here today to focus on the solution.
so we can break the cycles. people can get the help they need and kids can be reunited with their moms and dads. to continue this conversation, it
is my honor to introduce to the stage, the vice president of the united states, mike pence. [applause] vice president pence: thank you, hannah for that amazing
, amazing introduction. and for your courage and your bravery and for being such an extraordinary voice for positive change in america. we are proud of you. we really are. [applause] i was deeply moved as i know you all were by hannah's reflections and the courage she and her mother have shown. and their willingness to lend their voice and their experience to this anonymously important national debate. important national debate. before i begin, allow me to address the shooting that took place this morning in santa fe high school, texas. the president and i have been briefed and we will continue to monitor the situation and we will make all the federal resources available to first responders and school officials in the wake of this incident. but we say to the students, and the families, and the teachers of santa fe high school and all of those affected in the
entire community, we are with you. you are in our prayers and i know you are in the prayers of the american people. to members of the cabinet, governor fallin, governor martinez, the state leaders gathered here, to all of those working with faith, compassion, and conviction across the country, it is my great honor to join you here today at this first ever prison reform summit at the white house. [applause] and let me take a moment specifically to thank jared kushner for all you have done to advance this issue in this administration and across the country. you have shined a national
spotlight on prison reform. as never before. you have brought together people from across the political spectrum. because of your tireless work and inspiring commitment, i am confident this will be the white house that reforms the american prison system for the betterment of all of the american people. would you join me in thanking jared kushner for his great compassion and great work on this issue? [applause] as you will hear from president trump in just a few minutes, prison reform is a national priority for the trump administration. the president made this clear. in his state of the union address when he said that we are
fully committed in his words to help former inmates who serve their time, to get a second chance. during this national police week and every week, we will always stand with the men and women of law enforcement as they work to keep our streets and cities safe, but we also stand for the principle that once you served your time and paid your debt to society, you deserve a chance to make a difference in your life and in the life of this nation. [applause] the president has already taken action on this issue. earlier this year, he brought prison reform experts and governors to the white house to listen to their thoughts and discuss proposals and successes at the state level. in march, the president signed an executive order to establish the federal interagency on crime prevention and improving
reentry, which brings together leaders in our cabinet to craft recommendations for prison reform. and declared april second-chance month to in his words to help those to re-enter society and encourage expanded opportunities for those who worked to overcome bad decisions earlier in life and willing to work hard and turn their lives around. by failing to offer effective pathways to personal reform, the truth is our current prison system too often misses an opportunity to help people lead productive and fulfilling lives once they walk through the prison gates and return to their communities. this makes our nation less safe. it drains the public resources and too often ruins too many lives. the statistics are astounding. you heard hannah recite some of them. but the statistics that are most heartbreaking to
millions of americans are that every year while 650,000 people leave america's prisons, within three years, 2/3 are arrested again. more than half will be convicted. 40% will find themselves back where they started behind bars. it is a cycle of criminality. it is a cycle of failure. this is truly a crisis. it's also a crisis of public safety. it's driven by poor choices. let's be clear. but i believe as the president does, that it is also compounded by a lack of opportunity. we will continue to support law enforcement and hold accountable those who break the law. make no mistake about it. but we will also recognize that too many ex-offenders feel they have no where else to turn but back to a life of crime. once they leave our prison system. recognizing this is why our administration is working
tirelessly to identify and promote the reforms that will give current prisoners the training and skills they need to choose and chart a path of self-sufficiency and success. we are looking for programs that are grounded in evidence proven to work and as the experts in the room here know, there is a remarkable range of possibilities in that category. they include programs that address mental health and drug addiction as well as those that provide job training and mentorship. some are run by government agencies while others are run by community groups, nonprofit organizations and faith-based organizations. president trump has already called on federal, state and local prison systems to move forward with the best reforms whatever they may be and whatever the source, public or private or faith-based. our administration has been inspired by states like kentucky and kansas that have already shown reform can improve
prisoners' lives and we'll work with leaders in both political parties in the congress, the house and senate to advance prison reforms that will make our country safer by offering better choices to those behind bars and to former offenders. as i close and jared reflected on this a moment ago, let me just say that prison reform matters deeply to millions of americans and even in my little family and my life experience, i have seen the impact that prison reform can have. it's about public safety first and foremost and about stopping repeat offenders and getting crime off our streets and about fiscal responsibility and saving taxpayer dollars spent on a prison system that costs too much and delivers too little. above all else as i have seen firsthand, prison reform is about changing lives. and changing communities. about people who made mistakes,
who atone from them and learn from them, who got a second chance and shot at a better life. a few years ago when i was governor of indiana, i saw the difference prison reform can make. it was at a branchville correctional facility in southern indiana. where, as we speak, a majority of the inmates at branchville correctional participate in faith-based or character-based programs every single day and it is making a difference in their lives. working with local churches, i witnessed the extraordinary impact that these ministries were having in the lives of these offenders. and with a combination of work force training in the same facility, we were not only creating the tools for their hearts to change but giving them the ability to re-enter communities and have the kind of relationships in the communities that created
pathways for gainful employment. and truthfully, it was remarkable to watch. the symmetry, and the relationships that would be built through these programs, through volunteers coming along side offenders and building relationships and as the offenders developed new skills and new abilities, then they would leave the branchville correctional facility and re-enter the community, oftentimes, evansville, indiana and would give them a fresh start in life. i witnessed in our prisons what i have known throughout my life, change hearts mean changed lives. -- changed hearts mean changed lives. [applause] i also saw the impact of faith
and mentorship at the plainfield correctional facility, where we established a first-time ever, first-time offender program in the state of indiana. many of the mentors and volunteers in that program were ex-offenders who turned over a new leaf after they put their faith in god. they are now answering the call to ministry to men and women caught up in a life of crime oftentimes in the very same facility where they spent time. these changed lives inspire the nation. but these programs are making a difference in the lives of individuals and in communities every single day. the truth is these programs are making america safer. by opening doors to second chances to tens of thousands of those who made wrong choices earlier in life. i can assure you, we are determined and this administration with president
trump's leadership to seek ways to expand these opportunities to more offenders to the benefit of the nation. that's what president trump and i are committed to do and i hope today's summit gives evidence to that. with all of your help, with the continued creative leadership to the great governors who are gathered here today and other state officials, with the extraordinary compassion and faith and innovation of those of you who poured yourselves into the lives of offenders across this country and facilities across this country, with bipartisan support in the congress and with the strong leadership of president donald trump, i know we will open pathways to second chances for more americans and we will make america safer than ever before. thank you for the opportunity to address you today.
>> it's an honor to be here. i want to say a couple of things right up front. i'm not here in my role as a journalist. if i was a journalist, i would have to ask a whole lot of westerns about a whole lot of top recs. i'm here as a father of two little boys that will have to grow up in this country and here as a concerned citizen and president of the dream corps and we have been working on criminal justice for 20 years. we have a short period of time to talk and we have some of the best brains in the country to talk about one of the most important issues which is prison reform. i want
to start with you, jared. you have stepped out in this issue in a way that has been surprising and inspirational, what are you doing and why are you doing it? van, and thanku, you for your leadership. it has been great working
together and without your help, we wouldn't be able to make the progress that we have. i want to thank a lot of the people in this room who have been some of the great advocates for the work from around the country. i'm really inspired by all the work that you do and you are making a big difference for a lot of people and families. and what i'm finding is you have given a lot of hope to the people that say we can't change the rates. i see in all of your programs and the work that you do we can make a big difference and we are committed to doing it and thank you to all of you today. to van's question, and i know we will be quick because i know we have a short time. this was not an issue that was part of the campaign. one of the reasons that i was excited about this president is i saw he had potential to be president for all americans and because he didn't come from a traditional governing or government background. -- ipresident who would saw the president would take on all different issues.
this is an issue i had personal experience with, so i spent some time thinking about from the white house, what can be done. we started looking at the way we would deal with problems in business. let me assess the problem and come up with a problem and let's come to a vigorous execution phase. what i am finding is there are a lot of people in this government that are passionate and want to drive change and we started doing that and we have a lot more effort that is going to be able to come. one of the things is we have to do is take it to the president. it has to be the president's initiative. so we gathered a bunch of experts to meet with the president and explain to him the situation with 650,000 people leaving prison every year and how these people become future criminals or victims and people in prison are more disadvantaged and makes it more likely to commit future offenses than it is for them to have opportunities and to live a second chance once they pay their debt to society.
the president's response was really remarkable. one of the people in the room said to the president, well, you campaigned you were going to work for the forgotten men and women of this country. and there is nobody more underrepresented or forgotten in the people in prison. and the president said, that's right we have to do something about this and he has been all in to push this initiative and empowered his team to try and drive solutions. so we have been working at the federal level. we are working at the state level with a lot of the great governors who are here today and a lot of you who are in the field doing great work. that's how we got here, that's why we are doing it, and we believe we can make a lot of progress. senator van hollen: what are some of the things -- >> i know you have a lot of things going on, what are you moving forward? jared: sure. the first thing is we are focused on the people, take as many people in this country for whatever reason, they commit a crime and in prison and how do we help them have the best
chance of living a productive life after. first thing we did was we spoke to a lot of the people, a lot of people in this room today and what we saw, it has to be a holistic solution. if you help somebody get a job or help somebody with diction, it is less likely of keeping the -- we really then want to make sure we have the best practices together. the other thing that the attorney general is making sure the programs are evidence-based. we are focused at the federal level where we have 8% of the country's inmates but working on legislation in congress which just got out of the judiciary committee 25-5 vote which is very bipartisan for this climate. which we are quite pleased with and working on a commission with the new director of the bureau of prisons, general lynch, has been working with attorney general sessions to look at the different changes they can make and we are working with the faith communities and different
advocates throughout the country to go to the state and local prisons. the single biggest thing we want to do is really defined what the -- define what the purpose of a prison is. that is undefined is, the purpose, the punishment is and a lot of the people in prison today, they will be getting out at some point, 95-plus percent. we feel we have a duty to help them try and take your out how to make them selves better, so when they re-enter society they have a higher probability of being jobs and being productive citizens. that's what we are trying to do. there is a lot more to do. trying to do it in a short timeframe. >> my last question for you and then we will get together -- to others. why not do everything? you are doing prison reform. some people say why not do criminal justice reform, sentencing reform? why not take on the whole system? seems like you are starting a little bit more narrowly?
jared: so, sentencing reform is something that people still have different opinions on. what we have seen is they have been trying to do it at the federal level for eight years, doing sentencing reform and prison reform and they haven't been able to pass it through. there are a lot of great people and i'm appreciative of the efforts they have made because without those efforts, we wouldn't be here today talking about this because they started the dialogue and the discussion. one of the great things about our democracy and the way things work is you have to keep debating, debating and debating and when you build consensus, you will have laws. people say the system is broken, but i think the system works very well because you have to stick with it and build the coalition and consensus if you want to change the laws of the land. that's why we have the best system of the world in america's democracy. so what i assessed just from coming into this, having not been in politics the work, i
look at everything maybe with a clean slate and my observation was the reason this was stuck because of the sentencing reform. we as an administration said let's focus on the prison reform and if we can start showing that we can make the prisons more purposeful and lowering the recidivism rate at the same time, it will help make the argument and make it something that, over time, has the ability to go. that is issue that needs more debate, but there are very strong arguments on both sides and strong arguments that people make. there is a big consensus that we need to reform our prisons and if we get it done today, it will start helping people and their families today, and that is very important for us to do. we are not here to debate. we are here to do. and
if we are able to move this forward, it will make our communities safer and impact their lives. help their families and their communities. [applause]
>> i want to go to another speaker here, you have been a tremendous advocate for women behind bars. that is a part of this push to make it for women. why is that important? >> thank you for being here. first, i just wanted to lift up women who are in the room who were incarcerated and are advocates and are doing work. please stand and raise your hand because it is a tremendous feat every day after experiencing trauma, to continue to use that trauma to change lives. [applause] thank you. we all have experienced incarceration, myself having been incarcerated in federal prison for three years. i went in with privilege as an educated woman. i was a woman of color who had two parents who were franchise business owners and went to college and made choices.
when i made those choices, i landed up with a conspiracy drug charge in federal prison. what i saw is what happens to all the women that were impacted not only by the system but systems that people were put into because of poverty and race. when we look how to change the system, we really need to start thinking about the people who are most impacted and are directly affect it, and those are people who are experiencing poverty in our country. now, there are 80% of women who are incarcerated who are mothers. 86% of women have experienced sexual trauma, violence, or abuse. those are just the ones that are reported. everyone doesn't share their stories. then we think about the fact that there is 2.2 million incarcerated, 4.6 million people on pretrial probation or federal supervision, and 70 million people in this country presently have a criminal conviction.
that is one in three adults. that means it is not only the women who stood up and myself who have a criminal conviction, or who have been impacted by the system, there are a lot more people in this room. i think it is important for all of us to look at what we have been doing in this country. look at what is happening our women and mothers. look at things for decades to come, and we don't care about whether or not it's bipartisan, it's red and blue, it's black or white, our people just want to be free. >> what happens to women in prison? >> women are victimized and traumatized over and over again. you know, we experience sexual abuse and have male guards watch us undress. just because they want to. there is no threat. we have to ask for pads or
tampons, when that is a natural thing we have to go through, right? and we have to pay for them, we have to a for them the same amount as in the street. yet the jobs are only paid for $5.25. women with children have to decide to call their children at home or buy toothpaste. how do you expect the children not to be impacted? when these things are happening. you know, i am the person who gets graphic in detail and i had uterus fibroids and undergo surgery, and i had to give a paper bag of pads to a male guard in order for him to see that i was using them so he would issue more. i had resources and had family support, and you have to think of the hundreds of thousands of women who don't and how this impacts their children. and yes, when you think about public safety and think about
these things, you have to think about, this is safety for everyone. every single person, and there are women who will die in prison, women like alice johnson will die if she doesn't receive clemency. first time, nonviolent offenders. heard your story many times and i think would have to have a heart of stone not to be affected. give a round of applause for her courage. [applause] it's tough. it's tough. thank you. thank you for your courage. [applause] jessica jackson said about this issue that it is a one-to-one conversion when people hear some of the things that are happening
with women behind bars, some of the things that we should fix tomorrow, so i appreciate that. call younow whether to secretary, governor, or serve. most people don't think this is -- or sir.
is this a fixable problem? based on your experience in texas? absolutely. van, thank you for being here. this isn't a democrat or republican issue. this is truly a bipartisan issue. and jared, i want to say to you and ivanka, thank you for taking this on. this may be the issue of our generation, and we are seeing places across the country and i am going to take it a little step further and say you are absolutely correct in picking that narrow victory and that narrow place to focus so we could put the marker in the ground with a victory and it was a resounding one. but what i think is the next obvious step, and the one that i
share with the president, this is real conservatism and that is criminal justice reform and make -- that is being able to clearly make sure that you never get there, topeka. that's the real victory. yeah, you made some poor choices choice inde a bad your life, just like some -- all of us have made, but we were doing in the state of texas we were putting young people in prison for a long period of time. you know what we were doing in the state of next as and it was a national issue and started here in the white house back in the early 1990's with the mandatory sentencing. the things that, by god, we are going to be hard on crime, and we were. but the result was, we were ruining a lot of lives, lives that we didn't have to ruin and i had a democrat district judge come to me in the early 2000 say hey, perry, how about this, talk
to me about drug courts. we passed that in the mid-2000 and then we had prostitution courts and veteran court and we made a real difference. here's the result, van. by 2013, in a relatively short period of time, like six, seven years, we shut down two prisons and saved $3 billion in the state of texas. here is the more important thing. the lives that were saved, the lives like topeka who never went because we gave judges the alternatives to sending them to prison with drug programs and shock probation and other alternatives. that's real conservatism. that is what we are about and we -- in this country, and we can do this at the federal level. states can get out there and i know you are looking at those kind of programs and you over in
new mexico, governors across the country. this is our moment as a country to send a powerful message to the least being able to help themselves in this county. and i want to finish up with this, when this started in the early 2000's, i had no idea i was going to be indicted. [laughter] but i was, so it became very personal for me. and the grand jury system became really personal to me about how it's abused. erica dockery in houston, texas, people like her, who basically were threatened with their children being taken away unless they didn't change their testimony -- in her case, against her boyfriend. this lady, march 2 of this year in a civil rights case in
houston, texas, it was clearly shown where the district attorney's office knew about the information that would have clearly shown that her boyfriend couldn't have killed the police officer because he was asleep on the couch, but it was kept away from that grand jury. it was kept away, and those types of grand jury reforms in the states, we got to be courageous to stand up, and brook and the texas public policy foundation were on the lead of that. and texas, i promise you, texas, we're going to be back. we will be back in 2019 and talk about these criminal justice reforms in the states and at the federal level and america is going to be a better place because of what jared and ivanka and people like van and topeka and you all have worked on together.
god bless you, i'm in the fight. [applause]
>> i want to add, for just a minute -- i want to add to our great governor, secretary, perry, i'm brook rollins, i will be joining jared and ivanka in two weeks time. >> give her a round of applause for that, that is a big deal. [applause] >> no, no, the governor told the great story of texas, but it is eight prisons closed in texas, not two, but eight. this is what happens, i know. but more importantly than that, the crime rate in texas is done 30% since we've done that. texas' population has exploded thanks to job growth and a great leader. as far as the prison reform system goes, we have closed down eight prisons and completely changed licensing laws and probation laws. secretary of -- secretary, in miami you implemented the first veterans' court. these things make a tremendous
difference and we are a country of second chances, and a country of redemption, but we are also a country about public safety and that is the beautiful thing about what we are trying to do in the state and now what we are trying to do at the federal level is this will help decrease the crime rate and keep our communities safer. thank you. thank you all for having me here. [applause] >> i will go to you last, jessica. you and i had a chance to work on your cut 50 campaign. you are a democrat, not a bipartisan moment overall but on this issue, there seems to be a little bit of bipartisanship. why do you think democrats should be working with republicans on this, and what do you do to make sure that when people do come home, they do well and keep that momentum going? >> thank you for giving me this opportunity. i'm so excited to see this continued bipartisan effort and
improved bipartisan effort. it feels like it is imagining -- gaining momentum on this issue. i think for me, it's personal why we need to come together. when i was 22, my husband was sent to prison. i found myself standing in the courtroom holding our two-month-old daughter who who is now quite a bit bigger. who introduced the vice president earlier. but at that time, all i wanted was for my husband to come home. i didn't care it was a democrat that passed a policy or a republican that passed some policy, and i remember once i started to learn about the system and learn how the political division was getting in the way of progress and ripping apart families across the country, all i wanted to do was see people reach across the aisle. we almost someone who has been impacted by incarceration.
maybe a best friend, your husband, yourself or the guy down the street. we all know someone who has been impacted by incarceration. we need to focus on empowering people who have been incarcerated to come home and be a part of the solution. help us figure out, how can we address some of the underlying reasons people are committing crime. mental illness, drug addiction, poverty. how can we use the voices of those who have been through the system to improve it? you say how can he we start bringing hem home and make -- people home and make our streets safer, which should be the goal for all of us? we need to start by looking at what is broken. when someone comes home from prison, what is there current experience? in most states, they are given 50 bucks and a bus ticket and told good luck, i hope you do well and this is after years being inside of a prison where they are probably not the -- getting the resources or help
a need to rehabilitate. we need to start by having a real conversation about housing for people coming home and how do we get them jobs and how can we improve their lives as they are coming home and support them in succeeding? >> very good. well first of all, give this panel a round of applause. [applause] i want to say a couple of things. this isn't just for show. about half of the people in this room were working together figuring out to work together. how to solve real problems together and we are going to continue to work together. and i want to say as a proud democrat and strong progressive, both political parties have core values. the republicans' liberty is a core value, limited government, individual rights. that is the core value that is being challenged now with too much incarceration. and democrats are around justice and making sure the little folks don't get mistreated.
that value is getting run over soto. o. over to if we can't get together for liberty and justice for all, if we can get together for liberty and justice for all, something is wrong with this country. we'll fight about everything else. but on this issue, let's get together. thank you very much. [applause] >> following an early morning meeting at the white house, homeland security secretary christi nielsen spoke with reporters about her relations