AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Jenna Bush Hager knows about second chances.
The former first daughter’s public run-ins with the law during her father’s presidency, including arrests for being a minor in possession of alcohol, opened her eyes to additional opportunities for people who get into trouble.
“This is about seeing someone as your sister, as your daughter, and taking them into your arms and saying: Just because you made a mistake, and Lord knows I did, you can find a second chance,” Hager said. She headlined a conference in Austin on criminal justice reform called Women Unshackled, which aimed to discuss the causes, drivers, and solutions to female incarceration. Kelley Ashby Paul, author and wife of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, delivered a keynote address. Panelists at the event included bipartisan leaders in criminal justice reform, from law enforcement officials and judges, to policy experts, and those who were once incarcerated.
During her discussion, Hager acknowledged that she was privileged to be born into the Bush dynasty.
“We don’t allow for imperfection enough in our country and in my opinion it’s getting worse,” Hager added. “We don’t allow for redemption or second chances or silly mistakes to not ruin peoples lives. It didn’t ruin mine but that’s because I was born in the right place at the right time and because we know I think [my sister] Barbara and I work extra hard to make sure that those that don’t have a voice aren’t left voiceless.”
She said she hoped society would help provide the tools mothers need to be the best parents they can be.
“It’s also thinking about the cycles in our country that we continue to create, and that is poverty and illness and violence and addiction,” Hager said. “And the way to break that is to make sure that children who are the most vulnerable are with their mother and that mothers who want to parent have the tools to do so.”
Gabrielle Torres contributed to this report.