by WorldTribune Staff, February 23, 2020
America “believes in redemption,” President Donald Trump told a group of former prison inmates who graduated on Thursday from a program which helps them re-enter society.
“We believe in second chances. You have paid your debt to society and showed your commitment to change. Your future does not have to be defined by the mistakes of the past,” the president said as he handed out diplomas to each of the 29 former offenders at a ceremony at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Trump told the former prisoners, who were graduating from the Hope for Prisoners program, that they are “made by God for a great and noble purpose.”
The president said: “Together, we are building the most prosperous economy. — and the most inclusive society — ever to exist. We want every citizen to join in America’s unparalleled success and every community to take part in America’s extraordinary rise. In fact, the Trump economy might be the best criminal justice reform of all. Our jobs market is so strong that businesses are recruiting former prisoners off the sidelines in great numbers.”
In its 11th year, Hope for Prisoners has graduated more than 3,100 former prisoners to prepare them to re-enter society, Dave Boyer noted in a Feb. 20 report for The Washington Times.
Trump said he campaigned on a pledge “to fight for those who have been forgotten, neglected, overlooked, and ignored by politicians in our nation’s capital.”
The Hope for Prisoners program was founded by Jon Ponder, a former offender who met with the president in 2018 as Trump signed the First Step Act, an initiative to offer more services and training for former inmates re-entering the workplace.
“I have not seen another sitting president move with this much compassion when it comes to the people in the re-entry community,” Ponder said.
Trump said he is giving “absolute consideration” to granting Ponder a full pardon, based on his work.
“He’s saved so many lives,” the president said. “I have a feeling he’s going to get that full pardon.”
Ponder, who served time for several Nevada bank robberies, and the FBI agent who arrested him in 2004 met in 2018 at the White House Rose Garden for the National Day of Prayer.