May 09, 2018

Freedom Partners Applauds Committee Passage of FIRST STEP Act

Post by Freedom Partners

Arlington, VA — Today, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted overwhelmingly to approve H.R. 5682, the FIRST STEP Act.

The bipartisan legislation would create new, evidence-based risk and needs assessment tools to be used periodically to prepare incarcerated individuals to reenter their communities as law-abiding individuals.

The bill is consistent with smart on crime legislation in the states that has produced lower crime rates, lower incarceration rates, reductions in recidivism and billions of taxpayer dollars in savings. Freedom Partners encourages leaders in the House to bring the bill to the floor as soon as possible.

Freedom Partners Chairman Mark Holden issued the following statement:

“The FIRST STEP Act will help ensure that incarcerated individuals leave prison in better shape than when they went in. The legislation will improve the safety of our communities, save billions in taxpayer dollars, and unlock doors for individuals who have paid their debt to society and are hungry for a second chance. We applaud all of the members of the committee who voted on a bipartisan basis to advance the FIRST STEP Act and we urge House leaders to bring the bill to the floor as quickly as possible.”

Earlier this week, Freedom Partners launched a paid digital ad campaign urging a group of Democrats on the committee to support the legislation.

Background:

According to federal data, roughly 96 percent of all federal inmates will one day be released from prison.

The FIRST STEP Act would create new, evidence-based risk and needs assessment tools to be used periodically to prepare incarcerated individuals to reenter their communities as law-abiding individuals. The bill is consistent with smart on crime legislation in the states that has produced lower crime rates, lower incarceration rates, reductions in recidivism and billions of taxpayer dollars in savings.

Using these tools, the Bureau of Prisons can better evaluate a prisoner’s level of risk, violence and needs, and then place these individuals into recidivism-reducing programs to better equip them for reentry. Part of expanding programming will include new partnerships, including nonprofit and faith-based groups.

If the legislation is approved, more than 4,000 federal inmates who are low level offenders and do not pose a threat to public safety will be released, and many others who also are not a threat to public safety could be reunited with their families in the future.

The bill could become the first major nonpunitive reform to the nation’s criminal justice system since the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Recently, Holden joined a coalition of top policy advocates in urging House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and his committee to take up the bill, strengthen it, and send it to the House floor. Click here to read that letter.

Additionally, a coalition of 26 businesses and business groups, led by Koch Industries, Inc. and Uber Technologies, Inc., wrote to Chairman Goodlatte and U.S. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) last month to outline their principles for prison and reentry reform. Click here to view that letter.

Learn More:

New Freedom Partners Digital Ad Campaign Highlights Democratic Prison Reform Champions

Freedom Partners Praises Prison Reform Bill Sponsors

President Trump’s Commitment to Reforming Broken Prison System Will Reduce Recidivism, Protect America’s Communities

Business Coalition Writes Congress to Highlight Principles for Prison and Reentry Reform

How Businesses Can Help Reduce Recidivism

Giving Formerly Incarcerated Individuals a Fair Chance Could Be Good for Your Business

 

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