Jul 13, 2018

Members of Both Parties Agree: It’s Time For Prison Reform

Post by Freedom Partners

This week, the American Enterprise Institute facilitated a conversation on criminal justice reform with Representatives Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). These unlikely partners have put aside partisan politics to work together on the FIRST STEP Act, a bill intended to help that will end the revolving door of recidivism by better preparing incarcerated individuals for their release from prison.

The Collins and Jeffries partnership is indicative of the support the FIRST STEP Act enjoys. Members of both parties, from different states and backgrounds, are joining forces to fix the American criminal justice system through common-sense prison reform. In his opening remarks at AEI, Rep. Jeffries stated:

Prison reform is what is bringing Democrats and Republicans together. It’s what brought the left and the right together. Progressives and conservatives together. And we should not blow this opportunity to take a step forward together in fixing our criminal justice system.

Both sides of the aisle agree the current prison system doesn’t prepare incarcerated individuals for life outside prison. It’s a poor setup that keeps offenders in the cycle of recidivism, hurts their families and communities and takes a massive toll on the taxpayers. Rep. Collins calls it a “money and moral issue,” stressing that if more than 90 percent of offenders in some level of prison will be released, we need to ensure they don’t go back.

Collins and Jeffries both addressed questions about the timing of prison reform. Jeffries stated:

It seemed reasonable that if you were going to fix our broken criminal justice system that you would start with those currently incarcerated individuals who are without hope, without opportunity, without a meaningful shot at transforming themselves upon reentering society.

Collins built on that point, saying “at the end of the day, this is pretty simple: It’s about people.”

He continued:

Prison reform is possible…For those out there who want to say let’s put this off, let’s add sentencing reform, or maybe get to a perfect bill later then I say what are you going to say to those families who are waiting on their loved one right now? What are you going to say to those incarcerated right now who could actually have a chance at redemption?

Congress is in a unique position to come together on a bipartisan issue and pass legislation that will help millions of incarcerated Americans succeed outside prison. The House passed the FIRST STEP Act with broad support. Now it’s up to the Senate.

Listen to the rest of the conversation between AEI and Reps. Collins and Jeffries.