The president discussed the First Step Act, the purpose of which is to help inmates prepare for life after prison.
The bill would offer incentives for inmates to go through counseling, substance abuse programs and vocational training before reentering society.
“One of the single most important things we’re doing is to help former inmates in creating jobs.” said the president. We’re creating so many jobs that former inmates for the first time are really getting a shot at it.”
The president went on to say that the goal is to help inmates train for jobs while behind bars.
He said he believes that if inmates learn a skill they are less likely to commit crimes again.
The First Step Act passed the house in a 360-59 vote in May and is waiting a vote in the Senate.
Trump National Golf Club
Bedminster, New Jersey
4:22 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everybody, for being here in Bedminster. We’ve had a lot of work. We’ve done a lot of work. They’re renovating the White House. It’s a long-term project, and they approved it years ago. And I said, well, I guess this would be a good place to be in the meantime. So they’re doing a lot of work at the White House. I miss it. I would like to be there. But this is a good way of doing it.
We have some very outstanding people with us. And I’ll make a few remarks. This is largely about prison reform — and other subjects — but largely about prison reform.
So I want to thank the governors — Matt Bevin, Phil Bryant, Doug Burgum, Nathan Deal, and John Bel Edwards — for being here today. Been friends of mine. We’ve been, I could say, in wars, but we’ve been on the same side of the wars. That’s always good.
I want to thank you also to Attorney General Pam Bondi and Ken Paxton. And Ken just filed a very interesting lawsuit, which I think is going to be very successful. I hope it’s going to be successful. I also want to recognize Secretary Rick Perry and Secretary Alex Acosta. Thank you both. Rick, thank you very much.
We are doing some great things with healthcare, Alex.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: We are.
THE PRESIDENT: And you’re doing some wonderful things with energy. I hope that project comes along that we’re talking about. It’s going to help a lot of people. A lot of jobs are going to be created.
SECRETARY PERRY: Indeed.
THE PRESIDENT: So I know you’re working on it.
I look forward to hearing from each of you about your experiences with prison reform and the lessons that we’ve learned. I know how Matt, in particular, you have been working so hard. Phil, you’ve been working long and hard on it — harder than anyone would know. But I can tell you, my administration feels very, very strongly about it.
One of the single most important things we’re doing is to help former inmates in creating jobs. We’re creating so many jobs that former inmates, for the first time, are really getting a shot at it, because they’re weren’t sought and now they are being sought because our unemployment rate is so low — historically low — 50 years.
Now, our economy is booming. Businesses are hiring and recruiting workers that were previously overlooked. They’re being hired. It’s a great feeling. It’s a great thing that we’ve all accomplished. We’ve created a lot of jobs in the states. And I guess I’ve helped you a lot on a national basis.
We’ve created 3.9 million more jobs since Election Day — so almost 4 million jobs — which is unthinkable. If I would have said that during the campaign, only a few of the people around this table would have believed me. But they would have. 3.9 million jobs since Election Day. That’s pretty incredible.
We’ve added more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs since the election. Manufacturing employment is now growing faster than at any time than it has in three decades, over 30 years. Through the Pledge of America’s Workers, launched just last month, almost 5 million Americans will receive enhanced career training and opportunities.
And I want to thank Ivanka Trump for having done an incredible job on that. She’s really worked on it. It’s something very important to her.
I’ve really — and I’ve said it to a lot of people: Jared — I want to thank Jared for what’s happening on prison reform, because you’ve really been leading it. It’s something very close to your heart.
And as I’ve said before, we hire Americans. We want to hire and treat our Americans fairly. You know, for many years, jobs have been taken out of our country. We’ve lost our businesses. We’ve lost the hiring abilities that we had. Not anymore. Now those companies are coming back; they’re coming roaring back — to your state, to your state. They’re coming back faster than anyone thought even possible.
Our first duty is to our citizens, including those who have taken the wrong path but are seeking redemption and a new beginning. That’s people that have been in prison, and they come out and they’re having a hard time. They’re not having such a hard time anymore.
We’ve passed the First Step Act through the House, and we’re working very hard in the Senate to refine it and pass it into law. We think we’ll be successful in that regard. The bill expands vocational educational programs to eligible federal inmates so that more of them can learn a trade. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re teaching them trades. We’re teaching them different things that they can put into good use, and put into use to get jobs.
I recently met with Chairman Grassley and other members of Congress to discuss the bill. We also agreed that we must be tough on crime, especially on criminals and trafficking of drugs, and lots of other trafficking. We have a trafficking problem, including human trafficking. We’re very, very tough on that. And that’s going to remain tough, or even tougher.
We must strengthen community bonds with law enforcement, including cities like Chicago that have been an absolute and total disaster. We’ll be talking about Chicago today because that is something that, in terms of our nation, nobody would believe it could be happening. They had 63 incidents last weekend and 12 deaths.
That’s bad stuff happening, and probably, I guess, you have to take from the leadership. That’s called bad leadership. There’s no reason, in a million years, that something like that should be happening in Chicago.
We want every child to grow up in a safe neighborhood surrounded by families that are loving and helpful, and with a path to great education and a lifelong career.
I want to thank everybody for being here. And I think what we’ll do, while the media is here, maybe we’ll just go around the room real quickly and we’ll introduce yourselves. And these are people that have really worked hard on prison reform — and lots of other things, but on prison reform. And that’s largely what this meeting is about.