Why is Trump suddenly supporting criminal justice reform?

First Step also affords Trump another chance to strike a blow against the Clintons. After all, former President Clinton signed a crime bill into law in 1994 — with Hillary’s intermittent support — that contributed to the problem of mass incarceration. Trump could reverse some of its ill effects, and then loudly take the credit.

This is also an opening for Trump to push back against charges of racism, as these reforms would disproportionately benefit people of color, who are vastly more likely to be incarcerated for minor drug-related offenses in America than white people. This comes in handy amid images of tear gas at the U.S.-Mexican border and after a midterm election in which minority voters helped hand the House of Representatives to the Democrats for the first time in nearly a decade.

Finally, Trump is no proponent of legalizing drugs, but he is softer on the federal war on drugs — especially concerning marijuana — than Sessions and some of his other allies. The drug war has played a substantial role in filling our prisons with nonviolent offenders, and Trump has signaled that he may support a bill changing America’s drug laws.