Senate Passes Criminal Justice Bill Benefitting Federal Prisoners
Bipartisanship was felt throughout the Senate floor Tuesday (Dec. 18) when a landmark criminal law reform bill was passed to help change the scope of federal crime.
NBC News reports the bill, known as the "First Step Act" was passed with a final vote of 87-12. The House will visit the bill at a later date but also passed a similar version of the bill in May with a mixed margin of 360-59. The bill, created with the help of Democrats, Republicans, activists and organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Conservative Union, will help decrease recidivism rates among federal prisoners who make up a reported 10 percent of America's prison population.
Factors in the bill will include early-release programs and reset mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders in an effort to minimize overcrowding. The New York Times notes certain programs will also allow prisoners to earn time credits to shorten their sentences and allow options for home confinement.
Sen. Cory Booker, who has been vocal in the fight for prison reform, shared the importance of the bill.
“Our criminal justice system, as it stands right now, is an affront to who we say we are as a nation,” Booker said Tuesday. “We profess, we actually swear an oath to the flag, that we are a nation of liberty and justice for all but our criminal justice system violates those values.”
The bill also prohibits shackling of pregnant inmates and the solitary confinement used for juveniles. President Donald Trump shared his support of the bill on Twitter.
"This will keep our communities safer, and provide hope and a second chance, to those who earn it. In addition to everything else, billions of dollars will be saved. I look forward to signing this into law!” he tweeted.
Once signed into law, thousands of inmates will be eligible for the programs and possible sentence reductions.