Jun 13, 2018
Freedom Partners Launches Six-Figure Campaign Urging Senators to Support the FIRST STEP Act
Post by Freedom Partners
Arlington, VA – Today, Freedom Partners announced that it has launched the first phase of a new six-figure campaign encouraging the U.S. Senate to support bipartisan prison reform legislation known as the FIRST STEP Act. This initial effort involves mail targeting a bipartisan group of 17 senators.
Currently, there are over 184,000 individuals in federal prison, 96 percent of whom will eventually be released back into society. The FIRST STEP Act would create new, evidence-based risk and needs assessment tools that would be used periodically to prepare incarcerated individuals to successfully reenter their communities as law-abiding individuals. The bill would also ban the shackling of pregnant inmates, allow individuals to earn good time credits of up to 54 days per year, and require prisoners, based on their level of risk, to be placed in facilities within 500 driving miles of their primary residence. Research proves that consistent familial connections help facilitate rehabilitation.
The mail pieces educate voters about the bill’s benefits and urge them to ask their senator to support the measure, which President Trump said he will sign once Congress approves it. After the House passed the bill last month by a vote of 360-59, Freedom Partners ran paid digital ads thanking members from both parties for their support.
Freedom Partners Chairman Mark Holden issued the following statement:
“The Senate has a rare opportunity to put politics aside and pass a bipartisan bill that would protect taxpayers, increase public safety and create hope and opportunity for thousands of individuals hungry for a second chance. The House passed the FIRST STEP Act overwhelmingly and now it’s time for senators to deliver on their commitment to rebuilding lives and reuniting families by passing this landmark criminal justice reform.”
The mail pieces will be sent to areas represented by U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Jon Tester (D-MT).
85% of Voters Agree That the Main Goal of Our Criminal Justice System Should be Rehabilitating People. (Justice Action Network Survey, 1/25/18)
The FIRST STEP Act is Based on Successful Reforms Implemented in States Like Texas. In 2007, the Texas Legislature projected the state would need 17,000 new prison beds over the next five years. After implementing criminal justice reforms, including expanded drug courts and mental health programs, crime dropped to levels not seen since the 1960s. The state closed four prisons and has plans to close four more — and the state saved $3 billion in the process. (Mark Holden & Brooke Rollins, Austin-American Statesman, 2/9/18)
White House Council of Economic Advisers: “On average, programs that address the prisoner’s mental health or substance abuse problems may reduce the cost of crime by about $0.92 to $3.31 per taxpayer dollar spent on prison reform and long-run incarceration costs by $0.55 to $1.96, for a total return of $1.47 to $5.27 per taxpayer dollar.” (White House Council of Economic Advisers Report, 5/18/18)
President Trump on the FIRST STEP Act: “Get a bill to my desk. I will sign it, and it’s going to be strong, it’s going to be good, it’s going to be what everybody wants.” (President Trump, Remarks at the White House, 5/18/18)