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Photo: Alex Wong / Getty

President Trump on Wednesday launched, by executive order, the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry. The president enacted the council with the aim of reducing crime while looking for ways to "provide those who have engaged in criminal activity with greater opportunities to lead productive lives."

Why it matters: Jared Kushner has been pushing for criminal justice reform and just last week, the White House released its prison reform priorities to Congress. This is another big step toward implementing prison reform in the federal criminal justice system, however some criminal justice reform advocates — including Sen. Chuck Grassley — are not settling for prison reform without sentencing reform.

What they're saying:

  • “We applaud President Trump for following through on his stated commitment to reducing crime, reforming our prisons and rehabilitating individuals who are hungry for a second chance,” Mark Holden, general counsel at Koch Industries who recently launched the Safe Streets and Second Chances prison reform initiative, told Axios. Holden said he is particularly encouraged that Jared Kushner will be one of the co-chairs.
  • While she thinks this is a good step from the administration, Inimai Chettiar, director of the justice program at the Brennan Center for Justice told Axios, "there can be no real criminal justice reform without reducing the number of people entering prison. The President and Attorney General are attempting to kill bipartisan sentencing reform in Congress, and offering incremental reentry reforms instead."

About the executive order:

  • The executive order calls for "mental health, vocational training, job creation, after-school programming, substance abuse, and mentoring," for inmates. "Incarceration is necessary to improve public safety, but its effectiveness can be enhanced through evidence-based rehabilitation programs."
  • The order asks for a report from the council within 90 days that will outline a timeline for ways to reduce crime and recidivism.
  • The council will be co-chaired by Jared Kushner, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Assistant to the President of Domestic Policy Andrew Bremberg.
  • The council will include the heads of: The Department of the Treasury, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Education, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
  • The executive order asks for ways to reduce recidivism and better re-entry for those coming out of the criminal justice system, but does not suggest looking at changes to sentencing guidelines.

Go deeper

CPAC Republicans choose conservatism over constituents

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

CPAC proved such a draw, conservative Republicans chose the conference over their constituents.

Why it matters: More than a dozen House Republicans voted by proxy on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in Washington so they could speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. And Sen. Ted Cruz skipped an Air Force One flight as President Biden flew to Cruz's hometown of Houston to survey storm damage.

Border Democrat warns Biden about immigrant fallout

Henry Cuellar (right). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

A Democratic lawmaker representing a border district warned the Biden administration against easing up too much on unauthorized immigrants, citing their impact on his constituents, local hospitals and their potential to spread the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios he supports President Biden. But the moderate said he sees the downsides of efforts to placate pro-immigrant groups, an effort that threatens to blow up on the administration.

3 hours ago - World

Iran rejects nuclear talks with U.S., for now

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at Iran/EU talks in 2015. Photo: Carlos Barria/POOL/AFP via Getty

A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that conditions are not ripe for informal nuclear talks between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers.

Why it matters: The Biden administration had proposed the talks as part of its efforts to negotiate a path back to the 2015 nuclear deal. The White House expressed disappointment with Iran's response, but said it remained willing to engage with Tehran.