“Our whole Nation benefits if former inmates are able to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens.” — President Donald J. Trump
Wednesday, President Trump announced his support of the FIRST STEP Act, which will help improve our Nation’s criminal justice system.
Many of the reforms included in this legislation passed the House in an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 360–59 in May 2018. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate worked with the White House to craft a bipartisan sentencing reform compromise, which has been added to the legislation.
The FIRST STEP Act will reform America’s prisons to make our communities safer and our justice system fairer.
Nearly all incarcerated Americans will one day leave prison, and the goal of this legislation is to make sure they do not return.
The FIRST STEP Act uses a targeted approach toward a specific population of Federal prisoners who will eventually be released.
The FIRST STEP Act will promote prisoner participation in vocational training, educational coursework, or faith-based programs, and in turn help them successfully reenter society.
-Prisoners will be able to earn credits that reduce the amount of time spent in prison.
-As a result, prisoners will gain job skills, drug treatment, and education that prepare them to reenter American communities as productive members of society.
-The legislation also seeks to place Federal inmates closer to their communities in order to facilitate family visitation.
-This is a true first step in creating a fairer justice system by reforming mandatory minimums, which have created racially discriminatory outcomes and increased overcrowding and costs.
-The legislation reduces the enhanced penalties for certain non-violent repeat drug offenders and eliminates the three-strike mandatory life provision.
-Certain nonviolent offenders will be able to petition courts for a review of their sentence, which can be reduced only after the judge reviews all circumstances, including public safety, criminal history, and the nature of the offense.
IMPROVING THE PRISON SYSTEM: Taking steps to better prepare inmates for reentry into our society and communities will help reduce recidivism.
The Act hopes to improve society for all by better equipping prisoners being released for successful reintegration into society. Today, one in three American adults has some type of criminal record and more than two million Americans are in prisons, including 181,000 in Federal prison.
More than 95% of these prisoners will eventually leave prison and face the challenge of restarting and reintegrating their lives.
Our prisons can do much more to prepare inmates for release, addressing the fact that roughly 77% of State inmates and 38% of Federal inmates are rearrested within five years of release.