White House, Law Enforcement Group Respond to FIRST STEP Act

Yesterday, President Trump endorsed the FIRST STEP Act, a piece of legislation aimed at reforming the criminal justice system.  While the bill passed the House in May 2018 with overwhelming bipartisan support, federal law enforcement groups have brought up concerns about the measures it includes. 

The statement from the White House calling on Congress to pass the FIRST STEP Act quoted President Trump saying “our whole Nation benefits if former inmates are able to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens.”  Reforms in the bill include improving prisoner access to vocational and educational programs, revising mandatory minimums in sentencing, and better equipping inmates to reenter society. 

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) released a statement earlier today responding to an updated version of the bill released by the Senate, stating “we were shocked to find no significant changes had been made reflecting the perspective of law enforcement.”  According to FLEOA National President Nathan Catura, “FLEOA shares the goal of a better and fairer justice system, but does not believe the First Step Act represents a holistic approach to dealing with criminals that focuses on returning productive citizens to society, rather than putting prison-hardened criminals and dangerous sex offenders back on the streets.”

FLEOA’s concerns center on the possibility that violent offenders could see early release and pose a risk to law enforcement officers and the general public.  Proponents of the bill argue that prisoners who are released would be unlikely to re-offend due to better access to support services inside and outside of the prison system.

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