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.
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.
Trump’s proposals deal mostly with improving prison conditions and better preparing prisoners for successful re-entry into society — a step short of the kind of comprehensive sentencing reform many Democrats are hoping for. But the White House sees the prison issues as the best hope for getting a bipartisan bill passed.
During this Day of Action, county officials are hosting events or participating in local activities to share with constituents the progress made in addressing the prevalence of people who have mental illnesses in jails; raise public awareness and understanding of this important issue; and emphasize their commitment to creating data-driven, systems-level changes to policy and practice to achieve Stepping Up goals.
“Kids don’t belong in prison. We know from the data that when children are incarcerated they usually become repeat offenders,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “This data-driven review will help us provide youths the best chance to successfully transition to a crime-free, productive adulthood.”
In the span of a few months, Meleke Burton has gone from being housed in a youth detention facility to planning for the fall semester at Auburn University at Montgomery. And he has already decided to pursue nursing, following in his mother’s footsteps.
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.
America hasn’t fully embraced the solutions that we know can work. According to a 2016 report by the surgeon general, only 10 percent of people in the US with a drug use disorder get specialty treatment, which the report attributed to a lack of access to care. Even when treatment is available, other federal data suggests that fewer than half of treatment facilities offer opioid addiction medications.
Since the inception of the voluntary program three years ago, 83 have graduated and two have since returned to prison.
That is an incredible statistic compared with the most recent state data, which shows a recidivism rate at 46 percent.
The Pew Charitable Trusts recently hosted a panel discussion in Philadelphia on how the city and other urban areas, such as Baltimore and Staten Island, New York, are responding to the opioid crisis.