“The costs of criminal activity are unacceptably high, but the reforms supported by the president promise to reduce costs and cut down on recidivism.”

Criminal Justice reform: We can improve expensive, ineffective system by lowering recidivism
Jared Kushner and Tomas Philipson
USA Today
November 19, 2018

Crime imposes substantial fiscal and social costs on the United States. In 2016, more than 1.4 percent of our Nation’s GDP was spent funding the State and Federal criminal justice system. Victims and society at large also bear significant costs through pain, suffering, reduced quality of life, property losses, increased medical costs, and loss of life. The most recent estimates from 2014 indicate that altogether these damages constitute an additional 1.5 percent of GDP, yielding a total burden of 2.9 percent of GDP, or roughly $500 billion.

These costs can be attributed, in part, to crimes committed by prisoners after already serving once in prison, through recidivism after being released from state and federal facilities. If recent trends hold, almost half of federal inmates who were conditionally released will be re-arrested within 5 years of release and more than 75 percent of state offenders who were released on community supervision will be re-arrested within 5 years of release.

To break this cycle, President Donald J. Trump is working to effect bipartisan and evidence-based prison reforms to reduce recidivism. He issued an executive order in March that is bringing together more than a dozen Federal agencies to identify ways to reduce recidivism, enhance the reentry process, and improve public safety.

The administration also worked with Congress to draft the FIRST STEP Act, legislation which seeks to strengthen recidivism reduction and evidence-based reentry programs for inmates in federal prisons. We continue to work with the law enforcement and faith and business communities to find ways to get people leaving prison properly reintegrated into society.

Government investment in prison education can be viewed as an extension of existing public investments — much like public investment for higher income populations through publicly financed schools, universities, and student loans — that build human capital elsewhere in our economy.

The bipartisan reforms supported by the president are an important broad-based approach that will, hopefully, benefit not only prisoners, but also the American public. This White House recognizes that fiscal and human costs of criminal activity are unacceptably high. Through our efforts to break the cycle of crime and reduce recidivism, we can assist more people to contribute to our society rather than be a burden to our great country.

Read the full op-ed here.