Oct 18, 2018
Voters, Especially Conservatives, Overwhelmingly Support FIRST STEP Act
Post by Geoff Holtzman
Arlington, VA – A new survey released today by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce shows overwhelming support for the bipartisan FIRST STEP Act and a couple of its most important provisions.
According to the new poll, 82 percent of voters, including 78 percent of Republicans, said they approve of the bill, which would improve public safety by equipping incarcerated people with the tools and training needed to become law-abiding citizens following their release from prison.
82 percent of voters agreed with a component of the legislation that allows certain non-violent offenders to earn reduced prison time for good behavior. 76 percent of Republican voters agreed with this idea.
76 percent of voters said that non-violent offenders who are specifically serving time for drug charges should be able to earn reduced prison time for good behavior. 66 percent of Republican voters agreed with this idea.
81 percent of voters said they support allowing non-violent offenders who have obeyed all prison rules and are not a threat to public safety to finish their sentences in home confinement in order to ease their integration back into society. 74 percent of Republicans agreed with this view.
Freedom Partners Chairman Mark Holden issued the following statement:
“This new poll confirms that conservatives overwhelmingly support evidence-based criminal justice reforms that make us safer and give people a second chance. The FIRST STEP Act is an opportunity for the Senate to follow the lead of red states like Texas and Georgia which have closed prisons and increased public safety through a smart on crime, soft on taxpayers approach. Instead of caving to fear tactics pushed by the so-called ‘tough on crime’ crowd, the Senate should listen to voters and pass the FIRST STEP Act as soon as possible.”
The bill, which easily cleared the U.S. House of Representatives in May, awaits a vote in the Senate. Recently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that a whip count will take place following the midterm elections and if it is clear that the bill has enough support to overcome a filibuster, the legislation will be brought to the floor.
According to the poll, a majority of voters will have a more negative view of Senate Republicans if they fail to pass the bill.
Currently, federal inmates are able to earn “credit toward service of sentence for satisfactory behavior,” or “good time credits,” of up to 54 days per year. However, the calculation of these time credits has been left up to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). This has led to an interpretation of the language that has resulted in a maximum of 47 days of good time per year, instead of the intended 54.
The FIRST STEP Act clarifies this language to ensure that inmates may receive “up to 54 days for each year of the prisoner’s sentence imposed by the court,” as was the original intent of the law.
And contrary to falsehoods perpetrated by misinformed critics of the bill, the FIRST STEP Act would not retroactively reduce sentences for anyone. Rather, inmates who participate in workforce or educational programs that are proven to reduce recidivism may earn credit to spend time in pre-release custody in a non-prison facility such as a halfway house, home confinement, or community supervision. To ensure public safety, there are numerous exceptions as to who may qualify for the earned-time credits.
About the Poll
The national online survey was conducted by In Pursuit Of, LLC. It was fielded October 11-12 among 1,234 registered voters and had a margin of error of 3.24 percent.