Nov 12, 2018

America’s Law Enforcement Community Widely Backs the FIRST STEP Act

Post by Geoff Holtzman

On Friday, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the largest law enforcement labor organization in the country, endorsed the FIRST STEP Act, bipartisan legislation aimed at reducing recidivism and making our federal sentencing laws more effective and just.

In a statement, FOP said the bill “will make our streets and neighborhoods safer [and] our police will be better protected.” The bill will also “improve the ability of our criminal justice system to effectively rehabilitate offenders,” the group said.

The announcement was a major boost for the bill, which passed the House in May but is still awaiting a vote in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to conduct a whip count after the midterm elections took place and supporters of the bill like Sen. Mike Lee say there are enough votes to pass it out of the Senate. President Trump also supports the bill and is eager to sign it into law.

While FOP is the largest law enforcement organization to support FIRST STEP so far, it joins a long list of current and former law enforcement groups and officials that have endorsed the bill or a rehabilitative approach to prison. That list includes prosecutors, sheriffs, judges, and, of course, police.

“H.R. 5682 is the only bill that was meaningfully informed by former federal prosecutors and drafted specifically to put a renewed focus on rehabilitation and correction, risk and recidivism reduction, and better community reentry,” wrote a group of 121 former federal prosecutors and senior government law enforcement officials in a letter to House lawmakers earlier this year. “Public safety and domestic security will be enhanced by these meaningful reforms.”

“The First Step Act is an investment in changing the punitive culture of corrections, which has largely failed in its vocational mission to rehabilitate,” said Suffolk County [NY] Sheriff Errol D. Toulon Jr. “If done right, [the bill] could keep many individuals from re-entering jails and prisons after serving their time.”

“The FIRST STEP Act calls for more funding for federal prison programs and incentivizes prisoners to complete the programs in order to hopefully reduce the likelihood of inmates committing new crimes once released from prison,” said the International Association of Chiefs of Police earlier this year. “At the same time the legislation provides additional safeguards to ensure that violent prisoners are not released, and that community safety remains the top priority.”

The following is a comprehensive look at the many law enforcement endorsements of the FIRST STEP Act. If you agree with America’s law enforcement representatives that the FIRST STEP Act will enhance public safety and reduce recidivism, then click here to tell your senator to support the bill.

121 Former Federal Prosecutors And Senior Government Law Enforcement Officials Sent A Letter To Lawmakers Encouraging Them To Endorse The FIRST STEP Act. “We write as an informal group of former federal prosecutors and senior government officials to endorse H.R. 5682, the FIRST STEP Act, and urge you to swiftly markup and pass this bill out of your respective committees and chambers… While our experiences vary, we all served in one capacity or another on the front lines of the federal criminal justice system and we all agree that meaningful reforms are needed to increase its efficiency and effectiveness. We also agree that public safety and domestic security will be enhanced by these meaningful reforms.” (Letter To Lawmakers Re: H.R. 5682, The FIRST STEP Act, Representative Doug Collins, 5/9/18) 

  • The Letter Was Signed By One Former US Attorney General, Five Former US Deputy Attorneys General, One Former FBI Director, One Former US Solicitor General, One Former Associate US Attorney General, Two Former Acting US Attorneys General, One Former DOJ Inspector General, One Former US Attorneys Executive Director, 13 Former District And Appellate Judges, And Numerous Other US District Attorneys. (Letter To Lawmakers Re: H.R. 5682, The FIRST STEP Act, Representative Doug Collins, 5/9/18)
  • Only The FIRST STEP Act Has “Sufficient Consensus And The Ability To Immediately Impact Public Safety While Empowering The Department Of Justice To Address… The Federal Prison System.” “There are many criminal justice reform bills that have been proposed in the last few years. We applaud all these efforts and the increased focus on improving the federal criminal justice system. However, only H.R. 5682 currently has sufficient consensus and the ability to immediately impact public safety while empowering the Department of Justice to address one of its most significant management and fiscal challenges—the federal prison system. We should not allow these thoughtful reforms to be held up by the lack of sufficient consensus on other pieces of the reform package.” (Letter To Lawmakers Re: H.R. 5682, The FIRST STEP Act, Representative Doug Collins, 5/9/18)
  • “H.R. 5682 Is The Only Bill That Was Meaningfully Informed By Former Federal Prosecutors And Drafted Specifically To Put A Renewed Focus On Rehabilitation And Correction, Risk And Recidivism Reduction, And Better Community Reentry.” (Letter To Lawmakers Re: H.R. 5682, The FIRST STEP Act, Representative Doug Collins, 5/9/18)
  • “These Reforms Must Be Implemented As Soon As Possible, For The Federal Prison System Is Inefficient And Presents Numerous Challenges, Including Consuming An Ever-Increasing Percentage Of The Department Of Justice’s Budget.” (Letter To Lawmakers Re: H.R. 5682, The FIRST STEP Act, Representative Doug Collins, 5/9/18)
  • The FIRST STEP Act Gives The Department Of Justice And Bureau Of Prisons New Tools To Address Prison Population, Make Informed Release Decisions And Reduce Recidivism, Such As: Placing A New Focus On Rehabilitation And Correction To Reduce Recidivism By Better Addressing Risk And Needs, While Incentivizing Prisoners To Participate In Programs And Jobs. “H.R. 5682 will give the Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons new tools to more effectively manage the prison population, make informed release decisions and reduce recidivism, which will increase public safety and security, including: • Placing a new focus on rehabilitation and correction, and establishing dynamic risk and needs assessment as the cornerstone of more effective recidivism reduction programming, and a more efficient federal prison system. • The bill will incentivize prisoners to not only participate in programs and jobs, but to actually reduce their risk of recidivism. In fact, it will effectively transform the federal prison system from risk management to risk reduction.” (Letter To Lawmakers Re: H.R. 5682, The FIRST STEP Act, Representative Doug Collins, 5/9/18)
  • The FIRST STEP Act Significantly Reduces The Cost Of Supervising Post Conviction Low Risk Offenders. “For the first time, we will know which prisoners have reduced their risk of recidivism, which have maintained a low risk of recidivism, and which have increased their risk. Higher-risk prisoners will have to demonstrate substantial risk reduction to progress down into lower risk categories and become eligible to utilize their earned time credits, and lower-risk prisoners will be eligible to serve the last quarter or so of their sentences in home confinement, which will produce significant savings. This is remarkable as the current cost of post-conviction supervision is $4,392 per year, as opposed to $34,770 per year for imprisonment, and $29,280 for residential reentry centers. This is a much more cost-effective way to supervise lower-risk offenders.” (Letter To Lawmakers Re: H.R. 5682, The FIRST STEP Act, Representative Doug Collins, 5/9/18)
  • “H.R. 5682 Would Free Up Resources For Federal Law Enforcement Efforts To Identify, Interdict, Disrupt, And Dismantle Transnational Criminal Organizations, And To Focus On The Highest Levels Of Violent Crime.” (Letter To Lawmakers Re: H.R. 5682, The FIRST STEP Act, Representative Doug Collins, 5/9/18)

Ronal Serpas, Former Police Superintendent In New Orleans And Current Chairman Of Law Enforcement Leaders To Reduce Crime & Incarceration, On The Sentencing Reform And Corrections Act Of 2017: “‘Today, our oversized prison population costs taxpayers billions annually and draws law enforcement resources away from apprehending violent offenders. I believe this legislation would free funding and time for officers to focus on targeting and preventing violent crime, making our streets safer.’” (Press Release, “More Support For The Sentencing Reform And Corrections Act,” Senate Committee On The Judiciary, 2/15/18)

  • Serpas: “It’s Time For Congress To Act Swiftly And Pass The Sentencing Reform And Corrections Act. The Law Enforcement Community Stands Behind This Legislation, As Key Provisions Of The Bill Would Aid Us In Fighting Crime More Effectively.” “‘It’s time for Congress to act swiftly and pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. The law enforcement community stands behind this legislation, as key provisions of the bill would aid us in fighting crime more effectively. Our current federal criminal justice policies often get in the way of smart policing and prosecution. Responsibly reducing incarceration will free funding and time for our officers to focus instead on targeting and preventing violent crime, making our streets safer,’ said Ronal Serpas, Chairman of Law Enforcement Leaders and former Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department. ‘Our decades of experience in law enforcement have proven to us that we can reduce crime and punish offenders appropriately and effectively without relying on excessive and arbitrary laws. We believe that reforming mandatory minimums and providing comprehensive programming in prison will not only help reduce crime, but also reduce our prison population costs.’” (Press Release, “Law Enforcement: Time To Pass Sentencing Reform & Corrections Act,” Law Enforcement Leaders, 2/8/15)

Law Enforcement Leaders Sent A Letter To The Senate And House Leadership “Calling On Congress To Pass Sentencing Reform, As A Part Of The White House’s Commitment To Reduce Recidivism.” “‘– Today, over 60 police chiefs and prosecutors —all members of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration—sent a letter to the Senate and House leadership calling on Congress to pass sentencing reform, as a part of the White House’s commitment to reduce recidivism. … Improving prison conditions and reentry services, on their own, will not adequately solve our high rates of incarceration and recidivism,’ the letter reads. ‘Legislation like the Prison Reform and Redemption Act (H.R.3356) and the CORRECTIONS Act (S. 1994) are useful efforts to improve the lives of those in prison. But such efforts should be coupled with efforts to reduce unnecessary incarceration, as it is in the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act… As law enforcement leaders, we want to make clear where we stand: Not only is passing federal mandatory minimum and reentry reform necessary to reduce incarceration, it is also necessary to help police and prosecutors continue to keep crime at its historic lows across the country. We believe the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act will accomplish this goal and respectfully urge Congress to swiftly pass it.’” (Press Release, “60+ Top Law Enforcement To Congress: White House Criminal Justice Efforts Not Sufficient To Reduce Crime,” Law Enforcement Leaders, 4/23/18)

  • “Any Effort To Reduce The Cycle Of Crime And Prevent Recidivism Should Include Sentencing Reform, Alongside Prison Reform Measures. The Sentencing Reform And Corrections Act Does Just That.” “‘Law enforcement from across the nation want our leaders in Washington to know we want them to address ineffective and outdated federal mandatory minimum sentencing,’ said Ronal Serpas, Chairman of Law Enforcement Leaders and former Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department. ‘Any effort to reduce the cycle of crime and prevent recidivism should include sentencing reform, alongside prison reform measures. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act does just that. To help keep our communities safe, we ask the White House and Congress to work\ together to swiftly pass this bill.’” (Press Release, “60+ Top Law Enforcement To Congress: White House Criminal Justice Efforts Not Sufficient To Reduce Crime,” Law Enforcement Leaders, 4/23/18)
  • NOTE: Letter Was Signed By Peter Newsham, Chief of Police, Washington, D.C.; Cyrus Vance, District Attorney, New York County, New York; William Scott, Chief of Police, San Francisco County, California; William Citty, Chief of Police, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Art Acevedo, Police Chief, Houston, Texas; Ronal Serpas, Chairman, Law Enforcement Leaders; former Superintendent, New Orleans Police Department; Former Police Chief, Nashville, Tennessee; Chris Magnus, Chief of Police, Tucson, Arizona; George Kral, Chief of Police, Toledo, Ohio; Timothy Heaphy, Former U.S. Attorney, Western District of Virginia; Brett Tolman, Former U.S. Attorney, District of Utah; John Walsh, Former U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado; Gil Kerlikowske, Former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner; Former Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; Matt Orwig, Former U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Texas; Richard J. Pocker, Former U.S. Attorney, District of Nevada; Barry Grissom, Former U.S. Attorney, District of Kansas; David LaBahn, President and CEO of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys; Richard Doran, Former State Attorney General, Florida; John Chisholm, District Attorney, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin; George Gascon, District Attorney, San Francisco County, California; Former Police Chief, San Francisco, California. (Press Release, “60+ Top Law Enforcement To Congress: White House Criminal Justice Efforts Not Sufficient To Reduce Crime,” Law Enforcement Leaders, 4/23/18)

Story County Iowa Sherriff Paul Fitzgerald: “As A Sheriff And An Iowan, I Want To Make Sure Criminal Justice Reform Is Done Right By Washington.” “Criminal justice reform is once again on Washington’s to-do list. This effort comes after President Trump elevated the need to help men and women who have reformed themselves behind bars get a second chance in his State of the Union address. Leaders from all parts of our society have come to recognize criminal justice reform is urgently necessary to protect public safety, including law enforcement. A well-negotiated strategy has emerged on Capitol Hill – a bill our own senator, Chuck Grassley, is spearheading that contains sentencing reforms alongside a spate of comprehensive common-sense solutions that together will help break the cycle of crime. As a sheriff and an Iowan, I want to make sure criminal justice reform is done right by Washington. … Sen. Grassley’s bill, which has broad bipartisan support, would do just that. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act would shorten unnecessarily long sentences for minor offenses and fund proven methods to ensure that people coming out of incarceration do not end up back in prison again. The bill would help Iowa’s police and prosecutors to stop the cycle of recidivism and allow Iowa’s federal law enforcement officials to focus on the biggest threats to public safety in our state.” (Paul Fitzgerald, Op-Ed, “Grassley Paves Right Path On Criminal Justice, And Washington Should Take Heed” Des Moines Register, 6/6/18)

  • Fitzgerald: “‘Sen. Grassley Has It Right. Prison Reform Alone Cannot Break The Cycle Of Crime. It Must Be Coupled With Sentencing Reform. Those Of In The Law Enforcement Community Hope That The Rest Of Congress Follows His Lead.’” (Paul Fitzgerald, Op-Ed, “Grassley Paves Right Path On Criminal Justice, And Washington Should Take Heed” Des Moines Register, 6/6/18)

A Letter Co-Signed By The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys Advocated For Passage Of The FIRST STEP Act. “On behalf of the 32 undersigned organizations, we are writing to voice our support for the FIRST STEP Act of 2017 (H.R.5682/S.2795), introduced by Representatives Collins (GA) and Jeffries (NY) and Senators Cornyn (TX) and Whitehouse (RI). We urge you to advance this legislation as soon as possible. … Federal prisons should provide opportunities for men and women behind bars to make amends and earn back the public’s trust. The regular use of risk assessment, individualized prison program plans, incentives for program completion, and opportunities for earlier release for good behavior, will be a significant step in transforming the federal prison system. This legislation will allow men and women in our federal prisons to return home sooner and better prepared to give back to their families and communities at their highest potential. … While the FIRST STEP Act is a significant step to advance justice, we hope it is just one of many to come. We thank you for your consideration and look forward to joining you in supporting the passage of this legislation.” (Letter To Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, And Minority Leader Schumer, House Judiciary Committee, 5/18/18)

A Letter From 134 Former Federal Prosecutors And Senior Government Officials Advocated For The Passing Of The FIRST STEP Act Of 2017. “We write as an informal group of former federal prosecutors and senior government officials to endorse H.R. 5682, the FIRST STEP Act, and urge you to swiftly markup and pass this bill out of your respective committees and chambers. It is for the sake of public safety that this must be done as soon as possible. While our experiences vary, we all served in one capacity or another on the front lines of the federal criminal justice system and we all agree that meaningful reforms are needed to increase its efficiency and effectiveness. We also agree that public safety and domestic security will be enhanced by these meaningful reforms. … We urge Congress to pass this legislation because it is good for federal law enforcement and public safety. At the same time, we also urge Congress to continue to work with the Judiciary and the Executive Branch to identify and study the effects of the front-end policies that have created imbalance in the scales of justice, and develop thoughtful reforms that will address these policies, mens rea and overcriminalization concerns, and assist in achieving a more appropriate balance in the federal criminal justice system.” (Letter To Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Chairman Goodlatte, Chairman Grassley, Rep. Nadler, And Rep. Feinstein, House Judiciary Committee, 5/15/18)

In An Op-Ed Former Federal Prosecutors And Political Appointees In The Bush Justice Department, John G. Malcom And Brett Tolman, Advocate For The FIRST STEP Act Of 2017. “In a Wall Street Journal editorial last week, Sen. Tom Cotton offered tepid support for prison reform measures in the FIRST STEP Act, which the House passed in late May with overwhelming bipartisan support. The Arkansas Republican said the bill contains ‘some flaws,’ but has ‘worthy goals.’ The FIRST STEP Act is designed to enhance public safety by placing prisoners in rehabilitative programs to make it less likely that they will reoffend after they return to their communities. … As former career federal prosecutors and political appointees in the Justice Department in the George W. Bush administration, neither one of us has ever been described as being ‘soft on crime.’ Nor, we doubt, have Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, a former judge and state attorney general, and Mike Lee of Utah, a former federal prosecutor. … We hope that the House, Senate, and the White House can find a way forward on meaningful criminal justice reform. There’s no time to lose.” (John G. Malcolm And Brett Tolman, Op-Ed, “Why It’s Not ‘Soft On Crime’ To Support Criminal Justice Reform,” The Daily Signal, 8/20/18)

Timothy Heaphy, Former U.S. Attorney For The Western District Of Virginia And A Founding Member Of Law Enforcement Leaders To Reduce Crime & Incarceration: “Our Current Approach To Incarceration Is Not Working. It Harms Everyone Involved And Will Only Get Worse. Now More Than Ever We Need Sensible, Comprehensive Reform That Addresses Sentencing And Empowers Law Enforcement To Concentrate On What Really Matters.” “The overriding goal of the criminal justice system is to enhance public safety. Unfortunately, our current system places an over-reliance on incarceration without a corresponding benefit in community safety. … I’ve been encouraged lately by efforts in Washington to fix this broken system. As a law enforcement veteran, I want to make sure our leaders go about policy improvement in the right way. We need reforms that tackle the inefficiencies and ineffective policies in the system end to end. It is essential that we address worsening prison conditions, as many current proposals do. Reentry programs in our jails and prisons pay for themselves in reduced recidivism. But for these prison reforms to have the desired impact, we also have to rethink who we are sending to prison in the first place. We have to decrease the current prison population as well as reduce the number of people entering our prisons. The way to do that is by simultaneously pursuing sentencing reform. … Our current approach to incarceration is not working. It harms everyone involved and will only get worse. Now more than ever we need sensible, comprehensive reform that addresses sentencing and empowers law enforcement to concentrate on what really matters: the most serious threats to public safety. Let’s hope Congress takes heed.” (Timothy Heaphy, Op-Ed, “Oped: Prisons Can’t Improve Until Sentencing Does,” Virginia-Pilot, 9/2/18)

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce: “Our Current Federal Criminal Justice Policies Aren’t Working. Our Prisons Are Overcrowded, And Our Recidivism Rates Are Far Too High. … To Me, And Many Leaders In Law Enforcement, It Is Obvious That Something Needs To Change.” “If you’re having trouble with something – car repairs, a bad cold or any other everyday problem – the best advice is usually to ‘ask the experts.’ Politicians trying to improve our criminal justice system should do the same, and as a 32-year veteran of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, let me say clearly: We need to rethink who we incarcerate, how and why. The time has come for comprehensive criminal justice reform. Our current federal criminal justice policies aren’t working. Our prisons are overcrowded, and our recidivism rates are far too high. Today, one in 110 adults in this country is behind bars, and the vast majority of people who are released from prison eventually end up back there. For decades, we have been spending massive amounts of taxpayer dollars – and finite law enforcement resources – on practices and on unnecessary incarceration that clearly does not stop the cycle of crime. To me, and many leaders in law enforcement, it is obvious that something needs to change. … There is finally momentum behind these urgently needed reforms. With the president’s endorsement, I hope more leaders from Maine, like Sen. Susan Collins, will stand with Maine to support federal sentencing and prison reforms in Congress. The evidence against the status quo is clear, and today comprehensive federal criminal justice is finally within reach. All that is left is for our elected representatives to do is choose the right path toward it. It is good to get tough on crime, but we need to get ‘smarter’ on how we deal with it, too.” (Kevin Joyce, Op-Ed, “Op-Ed: Cumberland County Sheriff Joyce: America Is Ready For Criminal Justice Reform – And Congress Can Do Something About It,” Press Herald, 9/4/18)

Former Attorney General Of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli: “The [FIRST STEP ACT] Would Mean Both Safer Communities And It Would Be A Win For Taxpayers, Too.” “The desire for safer communities and lower crime rates knows no ideology. But now, with a serious prison reform measure that would help achieve those goals gaining momentum in Congress, a few loud critics are trying to stand in the way. They’re claiming the bill is ‘soft on crime’ and calling it a ‘jailbreak’ bill that will result in more crime. Such claims just don’t hold up to the evidence. The Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act (FIRST STEP) would mean both safer communities and it would be a win for taxpayers, too. The bill has already passed the House or Representatives and now awaits action in the Senate. … With all the gridlock in Washington, this is a rare opportunity for lawmakers to accomplish something that will bring real reform and save taxpayers money while rebuilding families and keeping our communities safer. For conservatives, that’s a win we can’t afford to pass up.” (Ken Cuccinelli, Op-Ed, “Op-Ed: Ex-Virginia Attorney General: A Rare Chance For Congress To Bring Real Reform And Make Our Communities Safer,” Fox News, 6/20/18)

Former State Trooper, Special Agent And Sheriff Dr. Currie Myers: “The FIRST STEP Act Will Be An Important Public Safety Tool And An Important “First Step” In Reducing Recidivism, Reducing Violent Crime, And Having An Impact On The Opioid Crises In The United States.” “The FIRST STEP Act (H.R. 5682) was passed by the House of Representatives on May 22, and the Senate is expected to consider the bill in the coming weeks. The bill incentivizes participation in rehabilitation programs with the opportunity to gain ‘earned time’ credits. These credits allow reformed offenders to spend pre-release custody time in halfway houses or home confinement. This bill would not only have a major positive impact on the lives of offenders, but perhaps even reduce drug addiction in the United States. … The FIRST STEP Act will be an important public safety tool and an important ‘first step’ in reducing recidivism, reducing violent crime, and having an impact on the opioid crises in the United States. I urge my law enforcement colleagues, especially important community leaders like the National Sheriff’s Association, to get behind this legislation and its successful implementation.” (Dr. Currie Myers, Op-Ed, “Op-Ed: America’s Sheriffs Should Support The FIRST STEP Act,” RealClearPolicy, 6/7/18)

Former Sheriff U.S. Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) Said The FIRST STEP Act Is About Reducing Crime. “Rep. John Rutherford, R- Fla., said the FIRST STEP Act ‘is not about being soft on crime.’ ‘This is actually about reducing crime,’ he said.  A former sheriff, Rutherford said that the end of a prison sentence too often means sending someone ‘who might be the most incorrigible, disruptive inmate’ right back into a crime-ridden community, ‘and we wonder why these individuals failed and went back to a life of crime.’ ‘This FIRST STEP Act recognizes the importance of following up an arrest with good correctional programming and attempts to change behavior before sending them back to the community,’ Rutherford said. ‘Failing to have a therapeutic model within your correctional facilities’ means ‘setting these individuals up for failure.’” (John-Michael Seibler, Op-Ed, “Congress Is Right To Consider Prison Reform,” The Daily Signal, 5/14/18)

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. Called The FIRST STEP Act “The First Major Piece Of Federal Legislation In Decades Designed To Curb Mass Re-Incarceration By Focusing On Data-Driven Recidivism Reduction And Rehabilitation.” “President Donald Trump recently hosted a prison reform summit and urged Congress to pass the First Step Act, which would be the first major piece of federal legislation in decades designed to curb mass re-incarceration by focusing on data-driven recidivism reduction and rehabilitation.” (Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr., Op-Ed, “Answering The Call For Prison Reform,” Newsday, 6/7/18)

  • Errol Toulon Jr: “If The Goal Of Criminal Justice Reform Is To Reduce The Number Of Individuals Caught In A Cycle Of Crime, Incarceration And Recidivism, This Bill Would Improve Outcomes For Prisoners Re-Entering Society, Changing The Culture Of Corrections Work And Making Communities Safer.” (Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr., Op-Ed, “Answering The Call For Prison Reform,” Newsday, 6/7/18)
  • Errol Toulon Jr: “Even Though More Needs To Be Done, The First Step Act Is An Investment In Changing The Punitive Culture Of Corrections, Which Has Largely Failed In Its Vocational Mission To Rehabilitate, And If Done Right, Could Keep Many Individuals From Re-Entering Jails And Prisons After Serving Their Time.” (Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr., Op-Ed, “Answering The Call For Prison Reform,” Newsday, 6/7/18)

International Association Of Chiefs Of Police President And LaGrange, GA Chief Of Police Louis Dekmar Signed A Letter Urging Support For The FIRST STEP Act. “On behalf of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the world’s largest organization of law enforcement executives, I am writing in support of the FIRST STEP Act (S. 2795/H.R. 5682). We applaud the bill sponsors and the Administration for working with the IACP and soliciting our feedback and for their commitment to ensure that the legislation achieves a proper balance of maintaining public safety while providing rehabilitation services and early release incentives to qualified federal prisoners.” (Letter To Leader McConnell And Leader Schumer, International Association Of Chiefs Of Police, 6/5/18)

Former U.S. Attorney, Now U.S. Secretary Of Labor, Alexander Acosta On Re-Entry Programs: “These Programs Work. As You Know, And Others At The Table Know, I Was U.S. Attorney In Miami. And When You Talk With The Law Enforcement Communities, What They Will Tell You Is That These Programs Foster Public Safety.”  “And so, these reentry programs are needed for the economy. We have jobs ready and waiting for individuals when they leave prison. Second, I’d like to follow up on what some of you governors have said: These programs work. As you know, and others at the table know, I was U.S. attorney in Miami. And when you talk with the law enforcement communities, what they will tell you is that these programs foster public safety. When someone leaves prison, the best that could happen for them is for them to find a job. The best that can happen for society is for them to find a job and start contributing to society, rather than go back to the old ways of crime. So this is very much a win-win for the individual, for the safety of the community, and for the economy of the nation. We have individuals that are going from a prison system, where the taxpayer is funding the system, to contributing members of society that are helping this economic growth.” (“Remarks By President Trump At Prison Reform Roundtable,” The White House, 8/9/18)

Former Hinds County Deputy Sherriff, Now Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant Discussed The Success That His “Right On Crime” Program Has Had By Focusing On Workforce Training Programs, Mental Health, Addiction, And Faith. “In 2014, we began our ‘Right on Crime’ program.  We used all the things that Georgia has been successful with, and Texas.  I called both of these governors and said, ‘Tell me how you did it.’ I’m a former law enforcement officer, and I worked undercover narcotics cases. I’ve been out there with the worst of the worst. I put a lot of people in jail, and some of it was difficult, particularly when I was state auditor and over 100 state-wide elected officials and government employees went to jail for white-collar crimes. So we began a really strong program working with the PEW Institute of putting that workforce training program into effect, making sure we looked at addiction, mental health. Mental health challenges within the correctional facilities are obviously rampant. Also trying to make prisons a drug-free zone and a crime-free zone within that prison, so you can’t — your life can’t be threatened every day; you can’t be attacked in prison; you can’t have access to drugs and be rehabilitated. … And I can tell you, I had to call a lot of my Republicans into the governor’s office and convince them to vote for this bill.  And they were worried it was soft on crime.  They were hesitant about what they were going to tell their people back home.  And I said, “You tell them to call me.”  Because crime is down 6 percent.  We have 3,000 less inmates.  We saved $40 million since 2014.  And you can do the same thing.  And, Jared, thank you for your leadership.” (“Remarks By President Trump At Prison Reform Roundtable,” The White House, 8/9/18)

Loudon County Virginia Sheriff Michael L. Chapman: “Working With Inmates Through Mental Health Issues, Correcting Substance Abuse, Enlisting Support Groups, Providing Education, Assisting With Housing And Engaging Faith-Based Communities While Teaching Inmates Job Skills Works To Everyone’s Benefit.” “I believe measuring law enforcement success should be not only the offenders we arrest but also the offenders we never have to “re-arrest” once they have completed their sentences. People from across political affiliations must collaborate and join the effort to urge Congress to pass vital prison reform legislation.   As a twice-elected sheriff of Virginia’s largest sheriff’s office (Loudoun County), I see firsthand the importance of providing inmates with the opportunities they need to lead successful lives upon release. Working with inmates through mental health issues, correcting substance abuse, enlisting support groups, providing education, assisting with housing and engaging faith-based communities while teaching inmates job skills works to everyone’s benefit. This holistic approach is fiscally responsible, socially constructive and demonstrates a true sense of compassion. … The core of President Trump’s proposed prison reform agenda is ‘expanding prison work and programs so that inmates can re-enter society with the skills to get a job.’ This is especially important in a thriving economy where workers are needed more than ever. Since the length of sentence provides a yardstick for the potential development of skills inside a detention facility (the longer the sentence, the more opportunity for inmates to develop particular skill sets), the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) is able to provide only basic training and work opportunities.” (Michael L. Chapman, Op-Ed, “This Is The Meaningful, Effective Prison Reform The US Badly Needs,” The Hill, 7/31/18)

Former Federal Prosecutor Jeffrey Bellin Wrote That The FIRST STEP Act Was A Positive “First Step” And Should Not Worry Proponents Of “Law And Order.” (Jeffrey Bellin, Op-Ed, “A First Step Toward Sentencing Reform,” The Hill, 8/22/18)

  • Jeffrey Bellin: “Congress Could Repeal All Mandatory-Minimum Sentences Tomorrow And It Would Simply Free Federal Judges To Impose Punishments That Fit The Crimes.” (Jeffrey Bellin, Op-Ed, “A First Step Toward Sentencing Reform,” The Hill, 8/22/18) 
  • Bellin: “The Federal Criminal Justice System Is Best Understood As A Massive Bureaucracy Dedicated To Enforcing Drug, Weapons, And Immigration Laws.” (Jeffrey Bellin, Op-Ed, “A First Step Toward Sentencing Reform,” The Hill, 8/22/18) 
  • Bellin: “[T]he Federal System Is Due For An Overhaul As It Is Showing Signs Of Strain From Too-Severe Sentencing Laws. Long Mandatory Sentences Don’t Just Fill Prisons (Often With Sick, Aging Prisoners), They Jeopardize The Very Purpose Of The System: Justice.” (Jeffrey Bellin, Op-Ed, “A First Step Toward Sentencing Reform,” The Hill, 8/22/18)
  • Bellin: “Most Generally, Severe Sentences Ratchet Up The Pressure On Defendants To Admit Guilt And Plead Guilty To Get A Deal – Whether Or Not They Are Actually Guilty… At The Ground Level, Mandatory Sentences Create Ugly Distortions In A System That Strives To Do Justice.” (Jeffrey Bellin, Op-Ed, “A First Step Toward Sentencing Reform,” The Hill, 8/22/18)
  • Bellin: “With A Legal System Bursting At The Seams And Over 2 Million People Locked Up, A Heavy Burden Rests On Those Resisting Reform. The Arguments Against The Exceedingly Modest Reforms In The FIRST STEP Act Don’t Come Close To Meeting This Burden.” (Jeffrey Bellin, Op-Ed, “A First Step Toward Sentencing Reform,” The Hill, 8/22/18)

Judge Ricardo S. Martinez Has Advocated For More Home Confinements Stating “It’s A Stupid Waste Of Taxpayer Money To Put People In A Confinement Level They Don’t Need To Be In.” “Prison officials would not disclose the number of bed spaces the bureau has under contract in halfway houses. Judge Ricardo S. Martinez, who chairs the Committee on Criminal Law of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which helps write policies and guidelines for federal courts, said “we are also in the dark about those numbers.” He said the committee is working to establish better communication with the Bureau of Prisons. Federal judges, who can sentence defendants to halfway houses, need to know how much space is available… Martinez, whose committee has pushed for placing more prisoners on home confinement, said advances in tracking technology and risk assessments should alleviate public safety concerns. ‘It’s a stupid waste of taxpayer money to put people in a confinement level they don’t need to be in,’ the judge said.” (Justin George, “President Trump Says He Wants To Reform Prisons. His Attorney General Has Other Ideas,” POLITICO, 10/25/18)

Former US Attorney For Utah Brett Tolman: “95 Percent Of Inmates Get Out. Do You Want Them To Get Out Without That Mental Health Treatment Like Wanda Barzee? Do You Want Them To Get Out Without Training Or Some Education, So They Can Avoid Being Recidivists? Or Do You Just Want Them To Get Everyone Out? Right Now, The Federal System Is The Void Of That, And There Is Very Little To Take Advantage Of.” (Sam Combest, “Former Representatives Push For Criminal Justice Reform,” The Louisville Cardinal, 10/15/18)

  • Tolman: “That Decades-Old, ‘Mr.-Tough-On-Crime’ – It Might Have Gotten Someone Elected 20-30 Years Ago, But That’s All It Did. Otherwise All It’s Doing Is Warehousing People.” (Sam Combest, “Former Representatives Push For Criminal Justice Reform,” The Louisville Cardinal, 10/15/18)