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Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed openness to prison reform proposals focused on reducing recidivism and aiding re-entry to society presented in a meeting Thursday afternoon, Koch Industries' general counsel Mark Holden, who was in the room, tells Axios.

Breaking it down: Prison reform focuses on helping convicts prepare for re-entry and find jobs once released, and has bipartisan support, while sentencing reform efforts tend to lose "tough on crime" conservatives — i.e. Jeff Sessions. Holden said he hopes prison reform can be the start to broader federal criminal justice reform.

Who was there: President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Reed Cordish, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Jared Kushner, who has spearheaded criminal justice reform research and efforts, and Shon Hopwood, now a professor at Georgetown Law who shared his story of struggling to find a job after being released from prison for bank robbery. Other advocates for criminal justice reform were also included.

Two key takeaways:

  • During the meeting, Cornish drew parallels between those in federal prisons and the "forgotten men and women" Trump promised to stand for.
  • Sessions, who is a tough sell on criminal justice reform, said changes need to be made to the federal prison system to reduce recidivism.

What's next: On the Hill, it’s not likely that the bipartisan bills including both prison reform and sentencing reform such as the Grassley-Durbin Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act will see much movement as a result of this meeting because of the controversy surrounding sentencing reform, former legal counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Lars Trautman told Axios. The focus will likely be on prison reform exclusively for now.

Go deeper

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.