Trump says he’s eager to sign sweeping criminal justice bill

Saul Bowman
December 21, 2018

"Congratulations to the Senate on the bi-partisan passing of a historic Criminal Justice Reform Bill", he said on Twitter.

Alex Edelman/CNP/AdMedia/NewscomThe House passed the FIRST STEP Act by a wide bipartisan vote today, sending the first major piece of criminal justice reform legislation in years to the White House for signing.

"The Senate's version of the legislation, while far from ideal, includes crucial sentencing reforms that safely reduce the footprint of the federal criminal justice system from the front end", said Ed Chung, vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress.

Though Trump allies have celebrated the bipartisan achievement, they have also sought to use it as a cudgel against Democrats for not coming on board with other Trump agenda items.

The push for the legislation gained momentum as progressive Democrats were joined by fiscal conservatives, who saw the potential for savings if the USA prison population was reduced, along with religious conservatives who preached the importance of giving people a second chance.

Key components in the First Step Act include lowering mandatory minimums, allowing more inmates to serve time under house arrest or halfway homes instead of prison cells, giving judges more discretion for sentencing certain crimes, and outlawing the shackling of pregnant inmates.

Sasse another unexpected opponent of the bill worried that it would “release thousands of violent felons very early
ASSOCIATED PRESS Sasse another unexpected opponent of the bill worried that it would “release thousands of violent felons very early.”

Part of the legislation reduces the three-strike penalty from life in prison to 25 years.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Sasse, another unexpected opponent of the bill, anxious that it would "release thousands of violent felons very early".

But an array of liberal and conservative advocacy groups also rallied in support of the bill. They note that this only applies to federal prisons and courts, which should be obvious to anyone with a decent civics education, and ... well ... that's why CBS needed to make that plain, in fairness.

"Almost half of federal inmates released from prison are rearrested, & nearly a fourth end up back behind bars". A different version passed the House this year, so the House would have to pass the latest draft before it can be sent to Trump for his signature. Cory Booker, D-N.J., estimated that 96 percent of the prisoners who could be helped by the provision are black or Latino. "But three-quarters of the people serving time in prison for drug offences are African American or Latino", Durbin said. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Republican Sens. He had previously dubbed the bill a "jailbreak" over fears that it would release violent offenders onto the streets early.

Kushner spent many months quietly pressing Trump to prioritize criminal justice policies, carving out time on his father-in-law's schedule for meetings on the topic - including an October Oval Office visit of rapper Kanye West and his reality-television star wife, Kim Kardashian West, both outspoken reform advocates.

"If anybody's got any doubt whatsoever about whether or not the president is for this bill, I'm telling you what I heard from his own words", Grassley said. The company released a statement in November saying "we enthusiastically endorse the recidivism reduction strategies featured in the FIRST STEP Act".

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