Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, the Senate passed the FIRST STEP Act by an 87-12 bipartisan vote. The bill would reform the federal criminal justice system by revising some sentencing laws and letting judges consider sentences below the mandatory minimum for more people. The legislation would also establish a system of programs to provide incarcerated people with skills and tools to succeed when they go back to their communities after serving their sentence. Following the passage of the bill, Ed Chung, vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress, provided the following statement:
The Center for American Progress applauds the Senate for passing the FIRST STEP Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. The Senate’s version of the legislation, while far from perfect, includes crucial sentencing reforms that safely reduce the footprint of the federal criminal justice system from the front end. Additionally, the Senate added important checks on the U.S. Department of Justice as it creates a risk and needs assessment and a system of programs and education in the Bureau of Prisons.
These changes, which were priorities of CAP when we announced our support for the bill, would not have been possible without the leadership of Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kamala Harris (D-CA). These champions all resisted earlier calls to accept a more moderated version of the bill that omitted sentencing reforms and made sure the legislation was as progressive as possible in the current political climate. We look forward to the House quickly passing this version of the bill followed by enactment of the legislation in the coming days.
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick email@example.com or 202-495-3682.