Criminal justice reform in 2018: A conversation with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA)

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Event Summary

AEI’s Brent Orrell hosted Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Doug Collins (R-GA) on Thursday morning for a conversation about their new bill, the FIRST STEP Act. Among other things, the bill would expand opportunities for rehabilitation and vocational training in federal prisons and increase the use of risk assessment tools.

In their opening remarks, Reps. Jeffries and Collins discussed the importance of finding common ground in the midst of a polarized Congress, and Rep. Jeffries noted that criminal justice reform has become a bipartisan issue where some forward movement is possible. While both members conceded that the new bill does not address every issue they would like to see resolved, it captures what Rep. Collins dubbed “the art of the possible.”

The Q&A centered on how the two members found areas of agreement and on the nature of the bill itself. The bill, both men noted, intentionally does not address sentencing reform. This is because sentencing reform tends to be much more contentious in Congress, with many members feeling that it gives people a free pass for bad behavior. They noted, however, that doing nothing would be a disservice to incarcerated individuals and their families, who deserve change.

— Caleb Seibert

Event Description

More than 650,000 people are released from federal and state prison every year, and more than 75 percent of them will be behind bars again within five years. With such high rates of recidivism, what evidence-based models and programs are available to improve the odds of success for released prisoners?

Please join AEI for a conversation with FIRST STEP Act cosponsors, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), for a discussion on how policymakers can help the formerly incarcerated successfully reintegrate into work and society.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


8:15 AM

8:30 AM
Ryan Streeter, AEI

8:35 AM
Hakeem Jeffries, US House of Representatives (D-NY)

8:40 AM
Doug Collins, US House of Representatives (R-GA)

8:45 AM
Doug Collins, US House of Representatives (R-GA)
Hakeem Jeffries, US House of Representatives (D-NY)
Brent Orrell, AEI

9:05 AM

9:15 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Doug Lewis at [email protected], 202.828.6027.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Speaker Biographies

Doug Collins (R-GA) has served as a representative for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District since 2013. In the 115th Congress, he serves as vice chair of the House Republican Conference. He also serves on the House Judiciary Committee and House Rules Committee. He chairs the Subcommittee on Rules and Organization of the House and is the vice chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet.

Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) represents the 8th Congressional District of New York, an area that encompasses large parts of Brooklyn and a section of Queens. Serving his third term in the United States Congress, he is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Budget Committee. He is a co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. In that capacity, he is a member of the Democratic leadership team and helps run the messaging apparatus for the House Democrats. Rep. Jeffries is also the former whip of the Congressional Black Caucus and is a founder of the Congressional Criminal Justice and Public Safety Caucus.

Brent Orrell is a visiting fellow at AEI, where he works on retraining programs for individuals without college degrees, including youths, and reentry programs for former prisoners. He is also a vice president at ICF International, a consulting and technology firm. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the legislative and executive branches of the US government. He has worked for the US Department of Labor as an acting assistant secretary in the Employment and Training Administration and as the director of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Mr. Orrell has also served as deputy assistant secretary for policy and external relations in the Administration for Children and Families division of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Ryan Streeter is the director of domestic policy studies at AEI, where he oversees research in education, American citizenship, politics, public opinion, and social and cultural studies. Before joining AEI, he was executive director of the Center for Politics and Governance at The University of Texas at Austin. He has had a distinguished career in government service, which includes being deputy chief of staff for policy for Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, special assistant for domestic policy to President George W. Bush at the White House, and policy adviser to Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. Outside government, he has served as a senior fellow at the Legatum Institute and a research fellow at the Hudson Institute. In addition to his many television and radio appearances on such networks as BBC News, CNBC, and Fox News, Dr. Streeter’s articles have been widely published in outlets including National Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and The Washington Post.

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