Newt Gingrich at Aspen Ideas Festival

Newt talks about addiction treatment in the U.S. prison system

Full video here: link text

Relevant transcript below:

Q: I’m curious to hear: what are your thoughts of the impact of the BLM [Black Lives Matter] movement on the 2016 election?

A: I actually don’t know, to be honest. I can tell you that my advice to Trump, which has been pretty clear, and I’ve said publicly, is to place a fairly large part of the campaign in August and September in the black community. I think one of the great tragedies in American life is that we have allowed institutions to decay in ways that cripple human beings and the Democrats can’t reform and the Republicans don’t have the guts to go and try. Trump should go to the south side of Chicago and go to inner city Baltimore and go to inner city Detroit and talk clearly and candidly about the fact that we have adopted… we have fifty years of failure. 91% of kids in Detroit schools aren’t learning how to read. How are they going to have a decent future? People want to talk about income inequality. If you don’t reform the schools, you can’t possibly affect income inequality. How can we live in a country where there’s an entire neighborhood in Baltimore that’s a war zone and where you have people being killed every weekend in Chicago and we shrug. We recently, and I helped do this, the minute I talked to Trump he understood it. I said you need to modify Make America Great Again to Make America Great Again for All Americans. And now we’ve got to mean it. And I think a campaign that was serious about that, and I’m happy to meet with the BLM people, we may not agree with everything on the tail, but I happen to think every American life matters and I think that gets them excited. I think it’s true and I think we ought to have a policy that says “every American life matters” and that means you’ve got to pay attention.

We’ve also got to look at… I’ve been a significant leader in the criminal justice reform movement and 80% of the prisoners in some prisons are illiterate. Well, if we don’t have some method of helping them learn how to read by the time they graduate, they get out of prison, why should we think they’re going to have a job? Many of them are drug addicted. I just launched a project with Patrick Kennedy working on opioid recovery because there are medications and things now that make it dramatically more likely you can help people lead complete lives even if they’ve been addicts. Yet, we don’t apply that in prison.

One of the things I want to see done is a bill at the federal level. There’s some states now that allow charter schools in prison and they’re actually having an effect. Well, why don’t we do that at the federal level? Our goal ought to be that if you come into prison illiterate and drug-addicted, you shouldn’t leave prison illiterate and drug-addicted. Now that’s a conversation I’m happy to have with any group in this country and that puts me a lot further down the road towards real reform than some of the people who just jump up and yell “racism.”

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