Congress Passes First Step Act

On Tuesday, the Senate passed the First Step Act with an overwhelming vote of 87 to 12.  Earlier today the House of Representatives followed suit, passing the bill with a vote of 358-36. 

As reported by The Washington Post, President Trump expressed his support for the bill via a series of tweets and is expected to sign it.

This criminal justice reform bill only applies to federally incarcerated people, who make up about 10% of the total incarcerated population.  The bill, which lays out plans to revise federal sentencing guidelines and offer clemency for certain federal offenders, was a bipartisan effort. 

Co-sponsor Sen. Partick Leahy (D-Vt.) said “The First Step Act represents years of bipartisan work to address some of the most egregious and unjust outcomes in our criminal justice system. While our work is not done, these reforms, and how senators came together to produce them, represent the best of the Senate, and it will make a real difference in the lives of so many.”

However, The Washington Post reports that “even some GOP supporters fear [supporting the bill] could leave them vulnerable to charges of being soft on crime,” despite the fact that it is expected to save money by reducing the prison population.

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), whose opposition to the bill was previously reported by FEDagent, remains opposed to the bill.  FLEOA President Nate Catura stated, “Although the First Step Act included many provisions that FLEOA supported, we felt it was too soft on criminals and neglected to sufficiently protect victims and society. FLEOA supported the addition of amendments sponsored by Senators Cotton and Kennedy that would have made the First Step Act more balanced. These amendments were not included in the final bill. As a result, FLEOA feels that the First Step Act is deeply flawed and its implementation precarious.”

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