The First Step Act, which passed the U.S. Senate 87-12 and the House 358-36, will usher in significant changes to federal sentencing laws as well as improvements to programs that aim to reduce recidivism and provide support to people who are involved in the criminal justice system.
Updates from Capitol Hill
The Justice Center’s government affairs team works to promote the priorities of CSG members and their partners on Capitol Hill and with the executive branch. Legislative services include educating policymakers on complex criminal justice issues and communicating project findings to legislators that can be applied to policymaking and new practices. The team collaborates with experts from a wide range of disciplines and from all branches of government to ensure that policy and legislative recommendations are practical and based on sound data.
The U.S. Congress recently voted to approve the landmark, bipartisan First Step Act, which also reauthorizes the Second Chance Act.
U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that their bipartisan Second Chance Reauthorization Act, has been incorporated into the First Step Act, bipartisan legislation to reform America’s criminal justice system authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) recently introduced their Second Chance Reauthorization Act, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and amend the Second Chance Act, a law that supports state and local reentry programs to reduce recidivism.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved the fiscal year 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, which provides $30.7 billion for the U.S. Department of Justice and includes $2.87 billion for various state and local law enforcement assistance grant programs.
The U.S. House Appropriations Committee recently approved the fiscal year 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill on a vote of 32-19. The bill provides $30.7 billion for the U.S. Department of Justice and includes $2.9 billion for various state and local law enforcement assistance grant programs.
The U.S. House recently passed the FIRST STEP Act with overwhelming bipartisan support, sending the bill to the Senate. Introduced by Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the prison reform bill, which also has the support of President Donald Trump, would lower recidivism and prison populations through rehabilitative programing.
Nearly all of the 2.2 million people incarcerated in the United States will be released at some point. Individuals returning to their communities from prison or jail have complex challenges and needs that contribute to the likelihood that they may return to incarceration.
Strategies tested in many states show that there are effective ways to address the challenge of containing rising corrections costs while also increasing public safety.
Recent efforts among state and local leaders to reduce the number of youth who are incarcerated have yielded impressive results: the national juvenile incarceration rate has been cut in half over the past decade. Yet state policymakers, practitioners, and advocates alike recognize that reforming the juvenile justice system requires more than incarcerating fewer youth.
A 2006 Department of Justice study showed that approximately 45 percent of federal inmates, 56 percent of state inmates,and 64 percent of jail inmates displayed symptoms or had a history of a mental disorder; among female inmates in state prisons, the rate was nearly three out of four.
Passing the Justice Reinvestment Act in North Carolina wasn’t always a sure thing, especially since it initially faced a fair amount of skepticism from the right, with concerns that the bill was “soft on crime.” However, the more we educated members on the policy, the more support we built. In the end, the legislation passed with broad bipartisan support, and the results have been a case study for how successful and transformative criminal justice reform can be.
Senators in April took strong bipartisan action in support of three programs for FY2019—the Second Chance Act, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI)—aimed at increasing public safety and reducing recidivism at the state and local level.
As policymakers continue to focus on the importance of safe and successful reentry among people leaving prisons and jails, and with President Trump designating April 2018 “Second Chance Month,” a group of national leaders paused recently to reflect on the impact of the Second Chance Act—a law passed in 2008 that has supported work to improve reentry outcomes in communities throughout the country.