In a rare moment of bipartisan unity, senators passed the First Step Act, taking a step toward prison sentencing reform. On December 18, 2018, the United States Senate approved the criminal reform bill with a final vote of 87-12. This passage was an approval of the biggest United States criminal justice reform in decades.
The House passed a similar version of the bill in May, 2018. The House is expected to take up the Senate version of the First Step Act at a later time.
Supporters of the First Step Act claim the bill would bring more fairness to the United States criminal justice system, and would reduce overcrowding and save taxpayer money. Drug offenders and non-violent offenders stand to benefit most from the bill. The First Step Act could allow many federal prisoners to be released early, and could cause future federal litigants to receive shorter sentences. The First Step Act does not impact state level prisoners, only those in the federal justice system.
President Trump announced his support of the bill in November, 2018. In regards to the bill, President Trump Tweeted, “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!” The President also reminded the public that it is his job to fight for all citizens, including those who make mistakes.
At RDAP Dan, we’re hopeful that the Senate’s passage of the bill creates a more balanced justice system supporting the belief that people can become better versions of themselves.