July 31, 2018
|

Criminal justice reform is an issue close to my heart.  For the almost 11 years that I was governor of Arkansas, not a day went by that I didn’t deal with prisons, inmates, clemency requests or some other aspect of our criminal justice system.

One in three American adults has some type of criminal record, and more than two million Americans are currently in state and federal prisons.  And it is not just these individuals who are affected by our criminal justice system.  Their families – including the 2.7 million children with a parent behind bars – and their communities are intertwined with the outcomes of our system. 

A couple of decades ago, “tough on crime” was an applause line. It sounded good, but in reality, it didn’t make sense. It was tough on taxpayers, families and communities. The policy led to a system that excelled at punishment but was sorely lacking when it came to rehabilitation. 

It costs more money to put a person in prison for a year than it does to put them in college and pay for full tuition, room and board, books, and even some spending money. Locking folks up without a plan for rehabilitation means that we are simply warehousing people in a very expensive prison system. With 77 percent of inmates rearrested within five years of being released, we need to find a better way.  


Commentary continues below advertisement


The FIRST STEP Act, introduced by Representatives Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), provides a path to redemption and second chances. The act creates new, evidence-based risk and needs-assessment tools to help prepare incarcerated individuals to reenter their communities as law-abiding, productive members of society. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives in May and is in the Senate to consider and vote on the bill. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) has been a champion for smart criminal justice reform and can play a pivotal role in moving this bill in the Senate. 

The reality is that 95 percent of people in prison will eventually be released. However, even after someone has paid his or her debt to society, the tolls of incarceration are extensive and far-reaching, limiting opportunities for employment, housing, financial stability and education. Faced with these challenges, the cycle of crime too often repeats itself, putting communities at risk. 

Without addressing why people ended up in prison, our corrections system is mostly a place where more criminal skills are learned.  And upon release, the former inmate who cannot find a job ends up committing more elaborate crimes.  

The bill works to address the root causes of criminality while equipping offenders with the tools to turn their lives around permanently. Eighty-eight percent of inmates in the Arkansas system were there for a drug- or alcohol-related crime. They either committed the crime while they were drunk or high or committed the crime to get drunk or high. Treating the underlying problems of criminality, such as addiction, will lead to better outcomes when the individual is released after serving their sentence.  That may mean treatment for addiction, meeting mental health needs, education or job training. 



In my experience, faith-based programs have shown to have long-term success rates in helping people turn their lives around. The FIRST STEP Act partners with faith-based and nonprofit groups to expand workforce programming and address addiction. Through a process of repentance, forgiveness, restitution and redemption, criminal behavior is changed from the inside out for lasting and rewarding change.  

Americans benefit from a criminal justice system that improves public safety, strengthens families and communities, supports victims and protects taxpayers.  Prison reforms such as the ones in the FIRST STEP Act inspire a culture of respect for every life and removes barriers to transformation so that people can go from prison to paycheck. 

Mike Huckabee is a former governor of Arkansas and a signatory to the Right on Crime Statement of Principles.

This OP-ED appeared in the Des Moines Register.  Read it here.

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Comments 26-50 of 50

  • judy hannon

    08/01/2018 02:22 PM

    You are so right about this problem. I have a brother in prison for more than 20 years and he was under the influence when he committed the crime they just won't let him out and it has hurt our family a lot. He could be a good contributer to society but has not been given the chance. I am hoping the parole board will consider him for parole this time we are praying for this. He has turned his life around and become a God fearing man and been a good example for a long time in there. So the system is broken and needs to be fixed. Thank you for this article.

  • shelley Rubinstein

    08/01/2018 02:19 PM

    Mike,
    I have tutored and taught in the classroom for 35 years. I am currently taking care of my elderly parents but when they receive their eternal rewards, I would like to find a path to teaching reading in prison. I have a system developed 35 years ago that has been 99% successful in teaching struggling readers to read. This summer I had a 17 year old 6'2" 280 pound drop out come to me for tutoring. Mis-diagnosed as dyslexic, in three weeks his reading level went from middle of first grade to middle of 5th and in 6 weeks, he was able to do 9th grade reading and research. If I'd had a little more time, I would have had him writing on a 9th grade level, too! This is not bragging; just a tale that has been repeated over and over in my 35 years tutoring and teaching. It would bless me so much to find a way to put this simple, old fashioned method of teaching reading to work in a place that would make such a difference in the lives of inmates, their families, and their communities. Can you help me?

  • James Riley Norvell

    08/01/2018 02:15 PM

    Hope this is only a beginning. Thanks for championing reform.

  • Elaine humphrey

    08/01/2018 02:14 PM

    Also important is being able to remove ‘felon’ from in front of their names after many years as a law abiding citizen.

  • Charles Kotan

    08/01/2018 02:13 PM

    Well said, Governor! I am not a criminal, and have never been convicted. But I have two good friends who are serving long sentences. One was my division officer on a ballistic missile submarine who brutally murdered his ex-wife. Not much to be done for him, but he works daily to prepare those who will leave for a future beyond the prison. The other was convicted with no evidence for molesting a child. I don't know if he is guilty or was railroaded by a politically motivated DA. He has been in the California prison system over 15 years. Now that prison is limiting his access to college courses and credits. He is a brilliant guy, and should be able to exercise his mind to help others. I will contact my Arizona Senators to support FIRST STEP. Sadly, both are useless, as McCain's ego refuses to do the Right thing and retire. He probably wants to be laid out in the Capitol. Flake is just that.

  • Gloria Gardner

    08/01/2018 02:08 PM

    Dear Mr. Huckabee,
    My husband, who is a PhD. LPC with over 40 years of experience in counseling, has found a simple prayer-based approach to emotional healing that helps addicts receive freedom from the URGE for chemicals by dealing with the root causes of those urges, such as grief and anger. He has done a lot of research through review of studies that have been done by secular sources, which confirm his conclusions. He has seen people set free from addiction in as little as four counseling sessions (some of which he has on video.) He has written four books on emotional healing, the latest of which is Stopping America's Violence Epidemic (SAVE) aimed at equipping churches to help those who are hurting in their communities. This is, simply, miraculous healing from God in Jesus' name. We are Baptists and not charismatics, but the Holy Spirit does this healing! You can learn more about this at setfreeprayerministry.com, or call him, Jim Gardner, at 918-413-5475. He is working on websites and videos to spread the information about this healing, but it is all in process. He also plans to be at the Values Voters Summit in Sept, if you are going there. I am sending you this information because it seems extremely relevant to this First Step legislation, and you promise that you always read your comments. Thanks. Gloria Gardner

  • Anne Lofranco/Channon

    08/01/2018 02:06 PM

    Good bill, addresses some of the reasons why people, go to jail. However, another biggie that needs review and
    reforming is the sentencing guidelines. For example ow many are sentenced for years for possessing marijuana, and now it is legal in many states. There are many other such examples, of the sentences being far more punitive than the extent of the crime. Would you say extensive sentences increases first timers exposure to "HARD Criminals
    and their influence.

  • Rosemarie McKillop

    08/01/2018 01:55 PM

    Another aspect of this criminal system is that once a person is arrested and punished the system is rigged to keep them coming back by violating their probation with any excuse available thus continuing to force them to pay court costs, probation fees, drug testing fees and counseling fees until the whole family goes broke. In Florida this is a never ending circle. I can give you a perfect example. My grandson was on probation for having a drug in his possession. He was unable to make it for a meeting because he was at work and was stuck in a flood. He phoned in to let the counselor know and the counselor told him to stay where he was and not worry about it. An act of God. That judge added a month on to his probation for missing the meeting and drug test. All they had to do was reschedule the test which they did and it was negative. The point is that once they get you in the system they won't let you out until they've robbed you blind. This has happened to many people that I have spoken to who were in the system for many different reasons. It just goes on and on and there's really no way to get away from it because the judge is part of it.

  • Ferlin Blood

    08/01/2018 01:53 PM

    In your commentary on 1st Step legislation you made some valid point regarding a few of the problems but you never actually said anything about what is in this bill. What is it that it is exactly going to do?

  • Gwendolyn Rene Esswein

    08/01/2018 01:48 PM

    Dear Governor Huckabee,
    Thank You SO MUCH for your CONTINUED PERSISTENCE with the Helping of the American People.
    I think this is a WONDERFUL IDEA! I PRAY IT GOES FAR!!!!! It is heartbreaking that so many families
    lives are torn apart by things that happen often when someone is young and then the problem
    just keeps escalating. I am THANKFUL for SOMEONE LIKE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY (Sarah) that
    KEEPS PERSISTING in the EFFORTS to HELP OTHERS GAIN A BETTER FOOT HOLD IN LIFE.
    In the GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS this approach is BETTER FOR ALL AMERICANS.

    I am #1. a Christian and I know that CHANGE can come to those who's lives have been off course for so long
    ONLY through the POWER OF THE PRECIOUS HOLY SPIRIT OF JESUS CHRIST. The Acts 2:38 Experience is TRULY
    what they need. Repentance, Jesus name Baptism where the Blood of Jesus Christ is applied & the Infilling of the
    Precious Spirit of Jesus that filled those in the Upper Room in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. It is the BLOOD OF JESUS
    that they SEEK to CLEANSE their CONSCIENCE. Hebrews 9:14 "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (KJV) Instead of some other sort of scape goat substitute such as getting high to forget what's on their conscience.

    I have helped to make laws in the State of Michigan. I wrote my own Appeal for the Court of Appeals which was accepted. My husband then hired an Attorney for me to give oral argument in front of the Justices. We set Case Law in the Court of Appeals which helped the Families of the State of Michigan. Because of my experience in the courts I became a court mediator and have mediated a few cases for parents who were unable to see their children due to different circumstances. I have also helped a few different people who have been incarcerated and this has caused a lot of distress for their families as well. So i am acquainted with the system and the effects it has on families. I am also an inventor with a patented product and have designed a few other products and own some Trademarks. I am currently working on a product for another lady and have an idea as far as hiring some former inmates or soon to be former inmates to make product, etc. I need to look into financing for all of this. I actually started our Mom & Pop Computer Shop in Adrian, Michigan on a shoe string and we made about $148K in about our first 16-18 as a small business. We sold computers for $295 back in the year 2000 when they ran about 2000. People were beating our doors down. So I do have some experience. I think this is a good idea. I am just not sure where to turn with it because in order for people to get a paycheck there has to be money made available to the company. I am a woman owned company and the other lady who I am prototyping for is a woman owned company. We both have LLC's or similar. I have thought about selling product to the state of Georgia. My product is an ergonomic product that has been found to help alleviate the pain often associated with carpal tunnel and tendinitis. I am in the middle of beginning to help people design their products and I have an Patent Attorney who I work with in Chattanooga, Tn. that can do their filings for them. I was actually in contact with him about this earlier today.

    But I think it would be a GREAT IDEA as far as having former inmates make product and then they could get a paycheck. I actually just helped a former inmate here in Franklin, Kentucky. I am personal friends with the Judge here in town. I just explained the emotional trauma behind the WHY of WHY he acted out.

    Ironically ( I don't really believe in coincidences) we moved back here to Franklin and this fellow who had mowed our yard before saw me at the library. His mom had died a few years prior and so did his grandmother. He and his Aunt were living in his Grandmas house but his Aunt just died. He had suffered a lot of loss. His cat died and he found it on the road or in the parking lot where the county attorney's office was and he just flipped out and was acting menacing. not good. they called the police. he broke a window. Just a lot of loss. He was in the marines. No dad. A step dad he didn't get along with. Some of the church people have been trying to work with him. I am able to text with him to keep tabs on him. I mention the Judge and how she said he did fine.etc.
    Things are so psychological. People need to feel like they are cared for. You just have to be WISE AS SERPENTS and HARMLESS AS DOVES when dealing with them. :) He is not the only one I have helped who was a former inmate. I have been EXTENSIVELY involved in 2 other inmates cases both out of Georgia. The Attorney for the woman (drug related due to not seeing her children. Just a vicious cycle) told me I really helped her in court. I had emailed the Judge) The other young man we helped extensively and my husband gave him a job and had him work for him a while. Jacob went back to jail but I touched base with him when he got out because I had been trying to help his son's mother with some work. He recently called me.
    If you have any ideas about HOW I can go about getting some FINANCING please let me know. I actually called Kim Davis' Office recently and need to email her because I got her book from Mat Staver "Under God's Authority". He and Jay Sekulow and You are all helping our Nation stand strong.
    Thanks & God Bless You and Your Family
    Mrs. Rene' Esswein

  • Carol Harder

    08/01/2018 01:42 PM

    I TOTALLY AGREE!

  • Peggy Worsham

    08/01/2018 01:36 PM

    Very excited about this possibility. Our son is at present under parole advisement - first attempt at parole after serving two of his four-year sentence. Is there more to the Act? e.g. qualifications? processing time? Employees involvement where we live? My main question is how long will it be before the Senate even looks at it to even get a vote?

  • David A Cron

    08/01/2018 01:32 PM

    Hi Mike,
    Loved this. We have a great organization in our area that has, I believe, over a 90% success rate. More information at:
    https://hopeforprisoners.org/

  • ANN BRUCE PINEDA

    08/01/2018 01:30 PM

    Great idea! A missionary in El Salvador, Sam Hawkins, had success with MetAMORphosis, a type of halfway house job training program at Apanteos Prison in El Salvador. Sam and his wife Julie have been involved in LoveLink, a program which has healed abandoned malnourished infants for about twenty years. Sam's project prepared inmates in the spiritual training they would need to care for themselves and their families but also gave them skills as cobblers. They later teamed up with ADOC, a shoe company, and the inmates were at one time making shoes for public school children's uniform requirements in El Salvador. Feel free to contact either Julie or Sam on Facebook. They are from Texas and are fans of yours. Blessings to you and your loved ones. Ann

  • philip crane

    08/01/2018 01:29 PM

    Governor....I can understand what you are driving at, but let's put a little break on it first. I say this because of the recent actions by some SJW governors and pardon happy fools.
    The only words you hear lately are "social justice"....nothing about "justice for the victims". No one makes a person commit a felony, they have the choice not to. How many are repeat offenders? It's not about jobs, work or paychecks...it's about who they are and who they associate with in life. These people never heard the words "no", "don't do that" or "that's against God". Watching security videos from many of these felons breaking the law is heart breaking....for the victims. They create violence like they're animals. Yet...no one has done one thing about any man laid off or broke that's in jail for "child support" offenses.
    Society has gone wacky since I raised three daughters and one son....all who never tried crime, drugs or short cuts. Smokers are looked down on as demons, yet States and politicians want to legalize POT? Cigarettes never caused anyone to try harder drugs later. No...cigarettes are bad for people, but then what could we say about POT? The left knows a high or dumb-downed electorate is easy to manipulate and control. Now they want to fill the streets with proven criminals. Looks like the NFL players are getting their way....soon no one will be safe at home or anywhere. Oh wait! That's already the case in all states.
    Thirteen million illegal aliens, thousands of released "working cons" and plenty of terrorist immigrants coming....we're sure leaving our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren a fine country, huh? Why did I get drafted and sent to Vietnam, why did we fight WWII?
    Thank you for listening...but be careful of wolf's in sheep's clothing.

  • Donald D. Van Etten, M.D.

    08/01/2018 01:27 PM

    I am chairman of the board of Passages in Rapid City, SD. We take women from the SD Women's Prison who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. We have a faith-based housing program that helps them change to productive citizens. We have plans drawn and approved by the
    city to build new home on a lot donated to us by the city council. It will house our manager's office and 14 women along with our house
    mother. It will cost $1,200,000 and I cannot find the money to build it because we are faith-based. We have a five year recidivism rate of
    20% when the national average is 68%. PLEASE HELP US.

  • Stephen Russell

    08/01/2018 01:26 PM

    Justice Reform:
    More workcamps
    More DNA testing
    3D modelling crime scene etc.
    Remote juries: local juries appear in Court by TV to judge
    Same for inmates.
    Examine being "model prisoner" & reduce sentences.
    ID those WRONGLY Imprisoned by court.
    Merge prisons.
    Automate guards.
    More tech & Voc ed skills taught IE Food services, baking, metal shop, auto repair, IT, IS,
    Examine inmate record, parole, drug use.
    OK Kin near prison with guards in suburb locale.
    Merge Felony inmates into 1, 2 state prisons & shutter the rest or use for Immigration detainment IE MS 13

    More can be done with FIRST STEP. Much by the states.

    Merge court districts to cut overlap & bureaucracy.

  • Vickie Fiorentino

    08/01/2018 01:18 PM

    send the children to their parents....With you on those faith based programs.

  • Rev. Charles D. Pollak

    08/01/2018 01:03 PM

    Governor, You are absolutely correct. In June I retired as a prison Chaplain and have founded the South Carolina Prison Reform Alliance, Inc. This State has very few rehabilitation programs and those programs get little staff support to aid the work. As a result, many inmates are more isolated from society and angrier than when they were first incarcerated. Moreover, the general public is lukewarm at best and actually hostile in many cases towards any prison reform. We need to change that kind of thinking and embark on true reform, as you are advocating.

  • Shirley Frederick

    08/01/2018 12:46 PM

    I understand giving inmates a chance and trying to rehabilitate them. However, my family has been waiting 2 1/2 years for a court date for my 12 year old grandson who was sexually assaulted (lets call it rape as that is what it was). This predator had done 6-8 other boys who didn't talk. My grandson had the courage to finally speak as it happened over a 15 month period. I'm sorry, once a predator always one and you cannot rehabilitate them. Put them in prison and throw the key away. I am very angry at the court/judge/lawyer system in Illinois where they just string this out this court case and she is out on bail looking for another little boy to play with. Shirley Frederick, Machesney Park, IL.

  • Tracy Henderlight

    08/01/2018 12:33 PM

    I sincerely agree Mike, and this is one government mandate I fully support.

  • Kathy Todd

    08/01/2018 12:32 PM

    I am a firm believer in the Faith and Character Based prison programs in Georgia. I have wonderful friends who have worked closely with Walker State Prison in Rock Spring, GA with such a program, and the results have been inspiring and dramatic. God, music, and education have made the difference.

  • Mackie Braden

    08/01/2018 12:27 PM

    This will be a great program. While they are at it, teach them a little humanities too. They need earnable skills, ie, auto mechanics, welding, etc.

  • Dorothy Stavros

    08/01/2018 06:58 AM

    Your article is a great article, but how does a felon released from prison go about accessing the benefits of THE FIRST STEP. It's great to know that a bill was introduced - - but please help those by giving more information!

  • Jan Kincaid

    07/31/2018 10:36 PM

    Please check out Fresh Start program in Winnsboro La. My son has a new life due to this faith based rehab program. He is alive saved and out of jail. I wish every community could have this.

July 31, 2018
|

Criminal justice reform is an issue close to my heart.  For the almost 11 years that I was governor of Arkansas, not a day went by that I didn’t deal with prisons, inmates, clemency requests or some other aspect of our criminal justice system.

One in three American adults has some type of criminal record, and more than two million Americans are currently in state and federal prisons.  And it is not just these individuals who are affected by our criminal justice system.  Their families – including the 2.7 million children with a parent behind bars – and their communities are intertwined with the outcomes of our system. 

A couple of decades ago, “tough on crime” was an applause line. It sounded good, but in reality, it didn’t make sense. It was tough on taxpayers, families and communities. The policy led to a system that excelled at punishment but was sorely lacking when it came to rehabilitation. 

It costs more money to put a person in prison for a year than it does to put them in college and pay for full tuition, room and board, books, and even some spending money. Locking folks up without a plan for rehabilitation means that we are simply warehousing people in a very expensive prison system. With 77 percent of inmates rearrested within five years of being released, we need to find a better way.  


Commentary continues below advertisement


The FIRST STEP Act, introduced by Representatives Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), provides a path to redemption and second chances. The act creates new, evidence-based risk and needs-assessment tools to help prepare incarcerated individuals to reenter their communities as law-abiding, productive members of society. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives in May and is in the Senate to consider and vote on the bill. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) has been a champion for smart criminal justice reform and can play a pivotal role in moving this bill in the Senate. 

The reality is that 95 percent of people in prison will eventually be released. However, even after someone has paid his or her debt to society, the tolls of incarceration are extensive and far-reaching, limiting opportunities for employment, housing, financial stability and education. Faced with these challenges, the cycle of crime too often repeats itself, putting communities at risk. 

Without addressing why people ended up in prison, our corrections system is mostly a place where more criminal skills are learned.  And upon release, the former inmate who cannot find a job ends up committing more elaborate crimes.  

The bill works to address the root causes of criminality while equipping offenders with the tools to turn their lives around permanently. Eighty-eight percent of inmates in the Arkansas system were there for a drug- or alcohol-related crime. They either committed the crime while they were drunk or high or committed the crime to get drunk or high. Treating the underlying problems of criminality, such as addiction, will lead to better outcomes when the individual is released after serving their sentence.  That may mean treatment for addiction, meeting mental health needs, education or job training. 



In my experience, faith-based programs have shown to have long-term success rates in helping people turn their lives around. The FIRST STEP Act partners with faith-based and nonprofit groups to expand workforce programming and address addiction. Through a process of repentance, forgiveness, restitution and redemption, criminal behavior is changed from the inside out for lasting and rewarding change.  

Americans benefit from a criminal justice system that improves public safety, strengthens families and communities, supports victims and protects taxpayers.  Prison reforms such as the ones in the FIRST STEP Act inspire a culture of respect for every life and removes barriers to transformation so that people can go from prison to paycheck. 

Mike Huckabee is a former governor of Arkansas and a signatory to the Right on Crime Statement of Principles.

This OP-ED appeared in the Des Moines Register.  Read it here.

LEAVE ME A COMMENT BY CLICKING HERE. I READ THEM!

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Comments 26-50 of 50

  • judy hannon

    08/01/2018 02:22 PM

    You are so right about this problem. I have a brother in prison for more than 20 years and he was under the influence when he committed the crime they just won't let him out and it has hurt our family a lot. He could be a good contributer to society but has not been given the chance. I am hoping the parole board will consider him for parole this time we are praying for this. He has turned his life around and become a God fearing man and been a good example for a long time in there. So the system is broken and needs to be fixed. Thank you for this article.

  • shelley Rubinstein

    08/01/2018 02:19 PM

    Mike,
    I have tutored and taught in the classroom for 35 years. I am currently taking care of my elderly parents but when they receive their eternal rewards, I would like to find a path to teaching reading in prison. I have a system developed 35 years ago that has been 99% successful in teaching struggling readers to read. This summer I had a 17 year old 6'2" 280 pound drop out come to me for tutoring. Mis-diagnosed as dyslexic, in three weeks his reading level went from middle of first grade to middle of 5th and in 6 weeks, he was able to do 9th grade reading and research. If I'd had a little more time, I would have had him writing on a 9th grade level, too! This is not bragging; just a tale that has been repeated over and over in my 35 years tutoring and teaching. It would bless me so much to find a way to put this simple, old fashioned method of teaching reading to work in a place that would make such a difference in the lives of inmates, their families, and their communities. Can you help me?

  • James Riley Norvell

    08/01/2018 02:15 PM

    Hope this is only a beginning. Thanks for championing reform.

  • Elaine humphrey

    08/01/2018 02:14 PM

    Also important is being able to remove ‘felon’ from in front of their names after many years as a law abiding citizen.

  • Charles Kotan

    08/01/2018 02:13 PM

    Well said, Governor! I am not a criminal, and have never been convicted. But I have two good friends who are serving long sentences. One was my division officer on a ballistic missile submarine who brutally murdered his ex-wife. Not much to be done for him, but he works daily to prepare those who will leave for a future beyond the prison. The other was convicted with no evidence for molesting a child. I don't know if he is guilty or was railroaded by a politically motivated DA. He has been in the California prison system over 15 years. Now that prison is limiting his access to college courses and credits. He is a brilliant guy, and should be able to exercise his mind to help others. I will contact my Arizona Senators to support FIRST STEP. Sadly, both are useless, as McCain's ego refuses to do the Right thing and retire. He probably wants to be laid out in the Capitol. Flake is just that.

  • Gloria Gardner

    08/01/2018 02:08 PM

    Dear Mr. Huckabee,
    My husband, who is a PhD. LPC with over 40 years of experience in counseling, has found a simple prayer-based approach to emotional healing that helps addicts receive freedom from the URGE for chemicals by dealing with the root causes of those urges, such as grief and anger. He has done a lot of research through review of studies that have been done by secular sources, which confirm his conclusions. He has seen people set free from addiction in as little as four counseling sessions (some of which he has on video.) He has written four books on emotional healing, the latest of which is Stopping America's Violence Epidemic (SAVE) aimed at equipping churches to help those who are hurting in their communities. This is, simply, miraculous healing from God in Jesus' name. We are Baptists and not charismatics, but the Holy Spirit does this healing! You can learn more about this at setfreeprayerministry.com, or call him, Jim Gardner, at 918-413-5475. He is working on websites and videos to spread the information about this healing, but it is all in process. He also plans to be at the Values Voters Summit in Sept, if you are going there. I am sending you this information because it seems extremely relevant to this First Step legislation, and you promise that you always read your comments. Thanks. Gloria Gardner

  • Anne Lofranco/Channon

    08/01/2018 02:06 PM

    Good bill, addresses some of the reasons why people, go to jail. However, another biggie that needs review and
    reforming is the sentencing guidelines. For example ow many are sentenced for years for possessing marijuana, and now it is legal in many states. There are many other such examples, of the sentences being far more punitive than the extent of the crime. Would you say extensive sentences increases first timers exposure to "HARD Criminals
    and their influence.

  • Rosemarie McKillop

    08/01/2018 01:55 PM

    Another aspect of this criminal system is that once a person is arrested and punished the system is rigged to keep them coming back by violating their probation with any excuse available thus continuing to force them to pay court costs, probation fees, drug testing fees and counseling fees until the whole family goes broke. In Florida this is a never ending circle. I can give you a perfect example. My grandson was on probation for having a drug in his possession. He was unable to make it for a meeting because he was at work and was stuck in a flood. He phoned in to let the counselor know and the counselor told him to stay where he was and not worry about it. An act of God. That judge added a month on to his probation for missing the meeting and drug test. All they had to do was reschedule the test which they did and it was negative. The point is that once they get you in the system they won't let you out until they've robbed you blind. This has happened to many people that I have spoken to who were in the system for many different reasons. It just goes on and on and there's really no way to get away from it because the judge is part of it.

  • Ferlin Blood

    08/01/2018 01:53 PM

    In your commentary on 1st Step legislation you made some valid point regarding a few of the problems but you never actually said anything about what is in this bill. What is it that it is exactly going to do?

  • Gwendolyn Rene Esswein

    08/01/2018 01:48 PM

    Dear Governor Huckabee,
    Thank You SO MUCH for your CONTINUED PERSISTENCE with the Helping of the American People.
    I think this is a WONDERFUL IDEA! I PRAY IT GOES FAR!!!!! It is heartbreaking that so many families
    lives are torn apart by things that happen often when someone is young and then the problem
    just keeps escalating. I am THANKFUL for SOMEONE LIKE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY (Sarah) that
    KEEPS PERSISTING in the EFFORTS to HELP OTHERS GAIN A BETTER FOOT HOLD IN LIFE.
    In the GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS this approach is BETTER FOR ALL AMERICANS.

    I am #1. a Christian and I know that CHANGE can come to those who's lives have been off course for so long
    ONLY through the POWER OF THE PRECIOUS HOLY SPIRIT OF JESUS CHRIST. The Acts 2:38 Experience is TRULY
    what they need. Repentance, Jesus name Baptism where the Blood of Jesus Christ is applied & the Infilling of the
    Precious Spirit of Jesus that filled those in the Upper Room in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. It is the BLOOD OF JESUS
    that they SEEK to CLEANSE their CONSCIENCE. Hebrews 9:14 "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (KJV) Instead of some other sort of scape goat substitute such as getting high to forget what's on their conscience.

    I have helped to make laws in the State of Michigan. I wrote my own Appeal for the Court of Appeals which was accepted. My husband then hired an Attorney for me to give oral argument in front of the Justices. We set Case Law in the Court of Appeals which helped the Families of the State of Michigan. Because of my experience in the courts I became a court mediator and have mediated a few cases for parents who were unable to see their children due to different circumstances. I have also helped a few different people who have been incarcerated and this has caused a lot of distress for their families as well. So i am acquainted with the system and the effects it has on families. I am also an inventor with a patented product and have designed a few other products and own some Trademarks. I am currently working on a product for another lady and have an idea as far as hiring some former inmates or soon to be former inmates to make product, etc. I need to look into financing for all of this. I actually started our Mom & Pop Computer Shop in Adrian, Michigan on a shoe string and we made about $148K in about our first 16-18 as a small business. We sold computers for $295 back in the year 2000 when they ran about 2000. People were beating our doors down. So I do have some experience. I think this is a good idea. I am just not sure where to turn with it because in order for people to get a paycheck there has to be money made available to the company. I am a woman owned company and the other lady who I am prototyping for is a woman owned company. We both have LLC's or similar. I have thought about selling product to the state of Georgia. My product is an ergonomic product that has been found to help alleviate the pain often associated with carpal tunnel and tendinitis. I am in the middle of beginning to help people design their products and I have an Patent Attorney who I work with in Chattanooga, Tn. that can do their filings for them. I was actually in contact with him about this earlier today.

    But I think it would be a GREAT IDEA as far as having former inmates make product and then they could get a paycheck. I actually just helped a former inmate here in Franklin, Kentucky. I am personal friends with the Judge here in town. I just explained the emotional trauma behind the WHY of WHY he acted out.

    Ironically ( I don't really believe in coincidences) we moved back here to Franklin and this fellow who had mowed our yard before saw me at the library. His mom had died a few years prior and so did his grandmother. He and his Aunt were living in his Grandmas house but his Aunt just died. He had suffered a lot of loss. His cat died and he found it on the road or in the parking lot where the county attorney's office was and he just flipped out and was acting menacing. not good. they called the police. he broke a window. Just a lot of loss. He was in the marines. No dad. A step dad he didn't get along with. Some of the church people have been trying to work with him. I am able to text with him to keep tabs on him. I mention the Judge and how she said he did fine.etc.
    Things are so psychological. People need to feel like they are cared for. You just have to be WISE AS SERPENTS and HARMLESS AS DOVES when dealing with them. :) He is not the only one I have helped who was a former inmate. I have been EXTENSIVELY involved in 2 other inmates cases both out of Georgia. The Attorney for the woman (drug related due to not seeing her children. Just a vicious cycle) told me I really helped her in court. I had emailed the Judge) The other young man we helped extensively and my husband gave him a job and had him work for him a while. Jacob went back to jail but I touched base with him when he got out because I had been trying to help his son's mother with some work. He recently called me.
    If you have any ideas about HOW I can go about getting some FINANCING please let me know. I actually called Kim Davis' Office recently and need to email her because I got her book from Mat Staver "Under God's Authority". He and Jay Sekulow and You are all helping our Nation stand strong.
    Thanks & God Bless You and Your Family
    Mrs. Rene' Esswein

  • Carol Harder

    08/01/2018 01:42 PM

    I TOTALLY AGREE!

  • Peggy Worsham

    08/01/2018 01:36 PM

    Very excited about this possibility. Our son is at present under parole advisement - first attempt at parole after serving two of his four-year sentence. Is there more to the Act? e.g. qualifications? processing time? Employees involvement where we live? My main question is how long will it be before the Senate even looks at it to even get a vote?

  • David A Cron

    08/01/2018 01:32 PM

    Hi Mike,
    Loved this. We have a great organization in our area that has, I believe, over a 90% success rate. More information at:
    https://hopeforprisoners.org/

  • ANN BRUCE PINEDA

    08/01/2018 01:30 PM

    Great idea! A missionary in El Salvador, Sam Hawkins, had success with MetAMORphosis, a type of halfway house job training program at Apanteos Prison in El Salvador. Sam and his wife Julie have been involved in LoveLink, a program which has healed abandoned malnourished infants for about twenty years. Sam's project prepared inmates in the spiritual training they would need to care for themselves and their families but also gave them skills as cobblers. They later teamed up with ADOC, a shoe company, and the inmates were at one time making shoes for public school children's uniform requirements in El Salvador. Feel free to contact either Julie or Sam on Facebook. They are from Texas and are fans of yours. Blessings to you and your loved ones. Ann

  • philip crane

    08/01/2018 01:29 PM

    Governor....I can understand what you are driving at, but let's put a little break on it first. I say this because of the recent actions by some SJW governors and pardon happy fools.
    The only words you hear lately are "social justice"....nothing about "justice for the victims". No one makes a person commit a felony, they have the choice not to. How many are repeat offenders? It's not about jobs, work or paychecks...it's about who they are and who they associate with in life. These people never heard the words "no", "don't do that" or "that's against God". Watching security videos from many of these felons breaking the law is heart breaking....for the victims. They create violence like they're animals. Yet...no one has done one thing about any man laid off or broke that's in jail for "child support" offenses.
    Society has gone wacky since I raised three daughters and one son....all who never tried crime, drugs or short cuts. Smokers are looked down on as demons, yet States and politicians want to legalize POT? Cigarettes never caused anyone to try harder drugs later. No...cigarettes are bad for people, but then what could we say about POT? The left knows a high or dumb-downed electorate is easy to manipulate and control. Now they want to fill the streets with proven criminals. Looks like the NFL players are getting their way....soon no one will be safe at home or anywhere. Oh wait! That's already the case in all states.
    Thirteen million illegal aliens, thousands of released "working cons" and plenty of terrorist immigrants coming....we're sure leaving our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren a fine country, huh? Why did I get drafted and sent to Vietnam, why did we fight WWII?
    Thank you for listening...but be careful of wolf's in sheep's clothing.

  • Donald D. Van Etten, M.D.

    08/01/2018 01:27 PM

    I am chairman of the board of Passages in Rapid City, SD. We take women from the SD Women's Prison who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. We have a faith-based housing program that helps them change to productive citizens. We have plans drawn and approved by the
    city to build new home on a lot donated to us by the city council. It will house our manager's office and 14 women along with our house
    mother. It will cost $1,200,000 and I cannot find the money to build it because we are faith-based. We have a five year recidivism rate of
    20% when the national average is 68%. PLEASE HELP US.

  • Stephen Russell

    08/01/2018 01:26 PM

    Justice Reform:
    More workcamps
    More DNA testing
    3D modelling crime scene etc.
    Remote juries: local juries appear in Court by TV to judge
    Same for inmates.
    Examine being "model prisoner" & reduce sentences.
    ID those WRONGLY Imprisoned by court.
    Merge prisons.
    Automate guards.
    More tech & Voc ed skills taught IE Food services, baking, metal shop, auto repair, IT, IS,
    Examine inmate record, parole, drug use.
    OK Kin near prison with guards in suburb locale.
    Merge Felony inmates into 1, 2 state prisons & shutter the rest or use for Immigration detainment IE MS 13

    More can be done with FIRST STEP. Much by the states.

    Merge court districts to cut overlap & bureaucracy.

  • Vickie Fiorentino

    08/01/2018 01:18 PM

    send the children to their parents....With you on those faith based programs.

  • Rev. Charles D. Pollak

    08/01/2018 01:03 PM

    Governor, You are absolutely correct. In June I retired as a prison Chaplain and have founded the South Carolina Prison Reform Alliance, Inc. This State has very few rehabilitation programs and those programs get little staff support to aid the work. As a result, many inmates are more isolated from society and angrier than when they were first incarcerated. Moreover, the general public is lukewarm at best and actually hostile in many cases towards any prison reform. We need to change that kind of thinking and embark on true reform, as you are advocating.

  • Shirley Frederick

    08/01/2018 12:46 PM

    I understand giving inmates a chance and trying to rehabilitate them. However, my family has been waiting 2 1/2 years for a court date for my 12 year old grandson who was sexually assaulted (lets call it rape as that is what it was). This predator had done 6-8 other boys who didn't talk. My grandson had the courage to finally speak as it happened over a 15 month period. I'm sorry, once a predator always one and you cannot rehabilitate them. Put them in prison and throw the key away. I am very angry at the court/judge/lawyer system in Illinois where they just string this out this court case and she is out on bail looking for another little boy to play with. Shirley Frederick, Machesney Park, IL.

  • Tracy Henderlight

    08/01/2018 12:33 PM

    I sincerely agree Mike, and this is one government mandate I fully support.

  • Kathy Todd

    08/01/2018 12:32 PM

    I am a firm believer in the Faith and Character Based prison programs in Georgia. I have wonderful friends who have worked closely with Walker State Prison in Rock Spring, GA with such a program, and the results have been inspiring and dramatic. God, music, and education have made the difference.

  • Mackie Braden

    08/01/2018 12:27 PM

    This will be a great program. While they are at it, teach them a little humanities too. They need earnable skills, ie, auto mechanics, welding, etc.

  • Dorothy Stavros

    08/01/2018 06:58 AM

    Your article is a great article, but how does a felon released from prison go about accessing the benefits of THE FIRST STEP. It's great to know that a bill was introduced - - but please help those by giving more information!

  • Jan Kincaid

    07/31/2018 10:36 PM

    Please check out Fresh Start program in Winnsboro La. My son has a new life due to this faith based rehab program. He is alive saved and out of jail. I wish every community could have this.