Trump talks prison reform during Mississippi visit

During President Trump’s visit to Mississippi on Monday, he took part in a roundtable discussion on prison reform. Governor Phil Bryant along with Mississippi Senators, Wicker and Hyde-Smith, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, state and local law enforcement, prosecutors, and Miss Mississippi, Asya Branch, sat alongside President  Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during the roundtable.

Trump has called on Congress to pass a new version of the ‘First Step Act’ which will, among other things, help inmates gain the skills they need to stay out of prison after they have been released.

RELATED: Trump to discuss prison reform in Mississippi

MDOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall spoke about the successes that Mississippi’s correctional system has had and focused on the drug courts in Mississippi, as well as, partnerships with the Mississippi Department of Mental health.

“With the support of Governor Bryant and our legislative body, we’ve made some great changes in our process,” said Commissioner Hall. “The Department now has more reentry services, and we know that it takes resources to be able to do that — that vocational training. We have to address all of those issues that cause people to recidivate.  We have to address their housing needs, their employment needs, their educational needs, and their substance abuse and mental health needs. Our correctional system in Mississippi has approximately 19,400 people in it.  We were able to divert that population with our criminal justice reform legislation.  From 2013, we were projected to grow well over 23,000 people.  We made some successes in reducing our population to 19,400, but we have much more work to do.”

Vice President Mike Pence spoke about the President’s agenda saying that the President has been working on prison reform from the beginning of his time in office.

“I think it’s very clear, especially with the law enforcement and corrections leaders here, that this is a law and order administration,” said Pence. “This President has supported law enforcement with resources and respect and will continue to.  I can promise you that. I checked the statistics today — FBI’s Unified Crime Reporting.  Violent crime is down; murder is down.  We’ve set a record for prosecuting violent criminals last year.”

“But from very early on in this administration, this President recognized that the cycle of recidivism, where within the first 18 months — 30, in some cases — 40 percent of inmates are back in prison is a challenge in our communities and a challenge that we need to confront with creative approaches.”

President Trump said they are counting the votes now, but are hoping to get the bill passed before January calling it very bipartisan.

“I think we’re going to have a vote,” said Trump. “And I think we should do it now, rather than later. This is something that could also pass later, but we have such a good group of people right now, and such great support, I think you’re better off — let’s take the victory for everybody — for Democrats and for Republicans, very bipartisan.  And I think we should take the victory.”

Watch the full video of the meeting below: