The United States congress is currently reviewing a bipartisan criminal justice legislation known as the FIRST STEP Act.
The Act has already passed through the United States House of Representatives with a vote of 360 in favor and only 59 against, with overwhelming support from both democrat and republican political parties.
Currently, the FIRST STEP Act is at a standstill, awaiting a vote from the U.S. Senate. On November 11, 2018 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his intention to call a Senate vote on the bill before the end of this year.
U.S. President Donald Trump participated in a roundtable discussion about the criminal justice reform on Monday, November 26 in Biloxi, Mississippi.
“So important, this legislation will help former inmates enter society as productive law-abiding citizens,” said President Trump at the beginning of the conference
Trump continued to explain that the act has received tremendous support, more than anything he would have expected.
President Trump reviews and praises a prominent part of the bill explaining inmates will have the opportunity to gain the skills they will need to obtain jobs within communities after they are released from being incarcerated.
In addition to training and skill building for inmates, serious reforms on sentencing will take place. The bill proposes to reduce sentencing to a reasonable amount for minor drug charges and additionally lower the California three strikes policy to 25 years instead of life for certain offenders.
President Trump states that with this bill he calls to, “revitalize our criminal justice to be tough on crime but also smart on crime,”
Some argue that the bill is a considerably small step in what needs to be done in the United States Criminal Justice System. According to an article from CNBC, the First Step act is only designed to affect federal inmates, who make up less than 3 percent of the total U.S. prison population.
Although receiving criticism from some, several politicians in Congress are very supportive and urging to have the bill passed rapidly.
Republican Senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley, tweeted,
“GOP Colleagues: NOW is the time to pass criminal justice reform unless your argument is that you prefer to work with Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass a bill? Pres Trump has golden opportunity to pass historic bipartisan bill that Pres Obama couldn’t #PassFirstStep”
If passed the bill would, “transform the Federal Bureau of Prisons and hold the DOJ accountable for improving the lives of 200k currently incarcerated men and women.” According to firststepact.org
The website for the act encourages citizens to, write, call and even tweet at their senators to share their support of the bill.