President Trump campaigned on a promise of law and order. He courted endorsements from police unions. And he even hinted to an audience of police officers that he supported the idea of roughing up suspects (the White House later said he was joking).
But on Thursday, the White House deployed the "bully pulpit" on behalf of a very different constituency: prisoners struggling when they return home.
At a roundtable with policy experts and elected officials, Trump expressed a desire to "break this vicious cycle" of inmates turning to crime when their lives outside prison prove too difficult. Justice Department statistics report that about two-thirds of the 650,000 people who leave the corrections system every year are arrested again — within three years.
"We have a great interest in helping them turn their lives around, get a second chance, and make our community safe," Trump said.
White House aide Jared Kushner, whose father served prison time, has led the way on these issues for months, convening listening sessions and meeting with advocates.
But Congress has failed to act on broader measures that would cut prison terms for drug offenders. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he backs some changes to the system, a topic that came up at the Camp David retreat last weekend.