SEAGOVILLE, Texas(CBSDFW.COM) – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R- TX) toured a Dallas-area minimum security federal prison Friday and touted a legislative bill aimed at expanding recidivism reduction programs for inmates.
“We’ve neglected the reality that people who go to prison will get out of prison,” Cornyn said, while joined with representatives from several reentry programs for offenders.
Cornyn supports the First Step Act, a Federal proposal to enhance education, job training and drug treatment for men and women serving prison sentences. The call to reduce repeat offenders includes a call to use community and faith based outreach groups to work with inmates as they transition to prison release, in hopes of finding stable housing and employment.
“Can you imagine wanting to turn life around, but can’t get a job, and can’t get a place to live? What we’ve done successfully in Texas over the past ten years can be done nationally,” Cornyn said.
According to inmate reentry advocate Christina Melton Crain, President and CEO of Unlocking Doors, 12,000 to 14,000 offenders yearly return to the Dallas area after serving jail or prison terms.
“We partner with employers who see how lives have changed,” she said.
James Reed directs the reentry program for Dallas Leadership Foundation. DLF works with hundreds of offenders inside the Hutchins State Jail. DLF also coordinates with area firms to offer employment from ex-cons who’ve completed DLF training and faith centered counseling and guidance.
“We can be able to have people have the same dreams, passion, goals, to be a dad, employed, a positive citizen in society, and it starts there in prison,” Reed said of the reentry programs.
Sen. Cornyn said his proposal is seeing bipartisan support in Washington.
Friday, Cornyn planned to complete the tour of the Seagoville Correctional Institution with Senior Advisor and son-in-law to President Trump, Jared Kushner.
Kushner did not attend the tour in person. Cornyn said he shared the prison reentry programs via phone.
Cornyn said his plan reflects a “smart on crime” approach.