SALT LAKE CITY — What do President Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian West, a House impeachment manager and prominent Christian leaders have in common?

They all support criminal justice reform.

And they’re not alone.

Across the country, the previously controversial — and predominately liberal — push to reduce sentencing standards for nonviolent drug offenders and increase second chances has gone mainstream. Trump even highlighted his reform efforts in a Super Bowl ad.

“Politicians talk about criminal justice reform. President Trump got it done,” says the commercial, which was paid for by the president’s reelection campaign.

The bipartisan and interfaith nature of reform-related activism is unique at a time when Democrats and Republicans disagree about almost everything and Christians clash over whether it’s morally appropriate for people of faith to vote for Trump.

It’s also crucial to the success of ongoing criminal justice reform, said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, during a Feb. 6 panel at the Brookings Institution on structural racism. Previous efforts to change sentencing policies have crumbled under the pressure of partisan tension.

“For too long, criminal justice reform had been wrapped up into a toxic political environment,” said Jeffries, who served as one of the House impeachment managers during the recently concluded Senate trial.

Many factors contributed to recent improvements in surrounding debates, including growing awareness of the cost of maintaining large prison populations and troubling personal interactions with the justice system, according to Jeffries and others. Individual political interests and religious beliefs help determine which justifications for policy reform appeal to them the most.

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Kris Steele, who is the executive director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform and previously served as a Republican leader in the state legislature, told the Deseret News last year that he first became interested in changing sentencing rules and reducing prison populations for financial reasons.

“It jumped off the page how much we were spending as a state, comparatively speaking, on corrections,” he said.

Steele then dug a little deeper and discovered that all that spending didn’t seem result in safer communities.

“When I looked around and compared our statistics with other states, virtually every other state had a lower incarceration rate and crime rate than Oklahoma,” he said.

Jeffries also points to statistics to explain why reform efforts are valuable. During his Feb. 6 presentation at Brookings, he noted that the United States incarcerates more people per capita than any other country, and more than China and Russia combined.

“The mass incarceration epidemic is one of the great injustices we all have to collectively address in America,” he said.

A little over a year ago, in December 2018, Congress made progress toward that goal when it passed the First Step Act, which Jeffries co-authored. The legislation reduces mandatory minimum sentences for drug felonies, enables some nonviolent criminals to be released early and expands rehabilitation opportunities for recently released prisoners, among other achievements.

A poll taken after the bill passed the House in May 2018 showed that 70% of likely voters approved of it, according to The Hill.

Other studies have shown that the general concept of criminal justice reform is gaining support nationwide.

In 2001, fewer than half of U.S. adults (46%) said it was a “good thing” for states to shift away from mandatory drug sentences. By 2014, that figure had risen to 63%, according to Pew Research Center.

Over that time period, Republican support for such changes increased by 8 percentage points from 41% to 49% and Democratic support surged from 48% to 66%, Pew reported.

The same survey found that two-thirds of Americans (67%) believe the government should focus more on providing treatment to drug users than prosecuting them. That’s a big change from 1990, when nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults thought there should be a mandatory death penalty for “major drug traffickers,” as researchers pointed out.

More than 70% of U.S. adults, including 8 in 10 “practicing Christians,” say that elected officials’ beliefs about issues like sentencing requirements and second chance programs for prisoners influence how they vote, according to a 2019 report from Barna.

This strong support for further changes to the justice system helps explain Trump’s reform-focused Super Bowl ad and other statements he’s made in recent weeks. During his State of the Union address on Feb. 4, the president highlighted the First Step Act as one of his (and Congress’) most important recent achievements.

“Everybody said that criminal justice reform couldn’t be done, but I got it done, and the people in this room got it done,” he said.

Most importantly, they got it done together at a time when bipartisan cooperation was an increasingly rare phenomenon, Jeffries said.

For too long, the criminal justice reform debate was “being fueled by reactionary politics,” he said. “If we were going to break that cycle, we had to break it together.”

Jeffries and others are hopeful that Republicans and Democrats and other typical sparring partners will continue to put their differences aside in order to further improve the criminal justice system. Trump seemed to signal a willingness to keep working on the issue with his latest budget proposal, which was released Monday and would offer more than $300 million in new funding to the Bureau of Prisons to strengthen implementation of the First Step Act.

“America is indeed a nation that believes in redemption,” Trump said at the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 6.