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Senate Passes Criminal Justice Bill Benefitting Federal Prisoners

The First Step Act would include job training and more programs dedicated to reducing recidivism rates among 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.

READ MORE: Cory Booker Introduces Bill To Legalize Marijuana

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.

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Spike Lee's 'She's Gotta Have It' Won't Return To Netflix For Season Three

Nola Darling and the She's Gotta Have It cast will not return to Netflix for season three, according to Entertainment Weekly. Director Spike Lee revisited his 1986 feature film to create the series adaption in 2017.

Starring DeWanda Wise (Nola Darling), her character considers herself a free-spirited artist who weaves her intimate relationships and experiences, all while going toe-to-toe with the gentrification of her Brooklyn community.

The sudden cancellation arrived less than two months after season two aired earlier this summer. "While this is our last season, we're very proud that it will be on our service for years to come," Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement on Wednesday (July 17).

The nineteen-episode series also starred Anthony Ramos, Ifenesh Hadera, Cleo Anthony, Lyriq Bent, Margot Bingham, Chyna Layne, and Fat Joe. Musical selections featured on the show included Stevie Wonder, Prince, Marvin Gaye, Madonna, Erykah Badu, and Frank Ocean.

Lee is currently working on an upcoming film for Netflix titled Da 5 Bloods. The war drama tells the story of Vietnam veterans with appearances from Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (BlacKkKlansman), Delroy Lindo (The Good Fight), and Norm Lewis (Les Misérables).

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'Insecure's Jay Ellis Is Engaged And His Fiancé Is Expecting A Child

According to reports, Jay Ellis– widely recognized for his role as Lawrence on the hit HBO show Insecure– is engaged and expecting his first child with his longtime lady love, actress Nina Senicar.

Per reports, Senicar is reportedly due this autumn, and the couple is set to have their wedding in Italy. The news was broken during her interview with the Serbian publication, Story.

"Perhaps she is not quite aware even now, because it's hard to believe that dreams are being fulfilled in just a few months when they have been under the umbrella of the fantasy for years," the publication writes (it has been translated from Serbian).

"Namely, this year's beauty will stand in front of the altar with its chosen one, Jay Ellis (37), and in the autumn couple will get a child," the publication continues. "Life was fairly fabulous all this time while achieving some other set goals, reviving dreams on a relationship between the California hot and Italian fantasy, but now it's time for the actress to find a new, deeper meaning."

Ellis' co-star, Insecure creator and star Issa Rae, is also reportedly set to tie the knot. She is engaged to her longtime love, Louis Diame.

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A Kirk Franklin Biopic Is Underway

Kirk Franklin is the latest musician to receive the biopic treatment. According to Deadline, the Grammy Award-winning gospel artist will be the subject of his life-told-on-film that'll depict his experiences before the music industry and his journey throughout the business.

The news site also states the film will be produced by DeVon Franklin, an acclaimed author of faith-based best-selling books. The preacher's Franklin Entertainment production company will take the reins on the film's process alongside Kirk Franklin who'll remain onboard as an executive producer.

The Texas native began his ascent to gospel music stardom when he released his debut studio effort, Kirk Franklin & The Family (1993). His discography boasts a bevy of albums, including his most recent Long Live Love, which entered at No. 1 on Billboard's US Top Gospel Albums chart. Concerning the charts, Franklin is also celebrated as the first artist to sit atop all five of Billboard's gospel charts at the same time.

In a VIBE interview, Franklin discussed the inspiration behind one of Long Live Love's standout tracks, "Strong God," and delving into a new realm of social commentary within the gospel genre.

"I think that one of the greatest misconceptions about gospel music from those that listen to it – and even at times those that do it – is that its agenda always has to be vertical, that there can never be a horizontal social commentary connected with the gospel, when at the same time one of the biggest modus operandi of Jesus Christ was the poor and the less fortunate and the widows," he said. "And his level of frustration was the oppression that the government and the religious leaders put on those people. So, to have social commentary in a gospel song for me is very important. Even, you know it’s been part of my career, I was doing it back with “Lean on Me.”

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