Black ExperienceEducationStacy M. Brown

President Trump to Deliver Keynote at Benedict College Criminal Justice Reform Event

President Donald Trump will travel to Columbia, S.C., on Friday, Oct. 25, to deliver the keynote address at the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum, NNPA Newswire has learned exclusively.

Hosted by the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center, a nonprofit founded by a bipartisan group of African American leaders from across the country who advocate for criminal justice reform, the event will be held at Benedict College, one of South Carolina’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which is located in an opportunity zone.

“The Trump administration’s support for HBCUs in South Carolina and across the Nation has been unprecedented and makes states more economically competitive,” a White House official told NNPA Newswire.

“President Trump championed and then signed the most significant bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation in a generation – the First Step Act of 2018 – with support of police, prosecutors, and prominent civic and religious organizations,” the official said.

“This landmark legislation enacted commonsense criminal justice reform that is helping prisoners gain a new lease on life while making America safer,” the official said.

“The positive effects of this revolutionary legislation will be long-lasting. President Trump remains committed to building on this tremendous success and continuing the great work achieved by this legislation, and his remarks at the forum will offer a glimpse into his vision for the second step of criminal justice reform his administration will support.”

The historic First Step Act is providing prisoners with a second chance through rehabilitative programs, fair sentencing, and smart confinement.

Trump has said he’s working to ensure that Americans have opportunities to get training while they are incarcerated and to succeed when they leave prison.

The White House said departments and agencies across the federal government are taking action to help in this effort.

Among the efforts:

The Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has launched its new “Ready to Work” initiative to connect employers directly to inmates, many of whom have been trained in skilled trades such as carpentry and plumbing, to improve reentry outcomes.

  • The Department of Labor has awarded over $2 million to states for “fidelity bonds” that underwrite companies that hire individuals with criminal records.
  • The Department of Education has expanded an experiment that allows Pell Grants to help individuals who are in prison (prohibited under the 1994 Crime Bill).
  • The Department of Energy launched a six-city roadshow on jobs in the energy sector, including opportunities to hire individuals with criminal records.
  • The Department of Housing & Urban Development is investigating options to address prohibitions on residents with criminal backgrounds in Section 8 housing.
  • The Office of Personnel Management is working to make USAJOBS available to those in federal prison.

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