U.S. House passes criminal justice bill, on to president's desk

Hugh Fox
December 22, 2018

He argues the bill leaves too much discretion to judges and leaves bureaucrats calculating who gets their sentence cut short.

Senate passage of the bill by a vote of 87-12 culminates years of negotiations and gives President Donald Trump a signature policy victory, with the outcome hailed by scores of conservative and liberal advocacy groups.

Grassley believes that bipartisan support, plus pressure from President Trump, convinced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule a vote on the bill.

During floor debate Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., called the legislation "a meaningful and historic criminal justice effort", adding that federal prisons should not be nursing homes. A study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission on the effect five years later found that the law, known as the Fair Sentencing Act, reduced the prison population and prosecutions for crack offenses all while consumption of crack cocaine continued to decline.

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-Clarifies that prisoners can get seven additional days of credit for good behavior for each year of their sentence.

"These reforms to our criminal justice system will not only reduce recidivism and make communities safer, but they will help people into lives of objective", said outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan. Of the 2.1 million people behind bars in the United States, only about 10 percent - 180,000 - are in the federal system. Big questions remain about how to end irrational mass incarceration and other issues.

These reforms worked, and the First Step Act will build upon the progress.

"It shows that bipartisan awakening about the need to decriminalize and decarcerate", said Medwed, University Distinguished Professor of Law and Criminal Justice.

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The bill would also federally ban the shackling of pregnant prisoners during labor. "The Republicans here simply didn't want to give Obama a win", said Jesselyn McCurdy, a deputy director at the American Civil Liberties Union.

The bill's passage "reflects America's growing demand for smarter and more restorative solutions to crime", DeRoche said in a written statement.

With unique access, go inside an effort in CT to change the way parole works and reduce the number of people returning to prison. His father, Charles Kushner, had served a year in federal prison for illegal political contributions and tax evasion. In its partnership with Prison Fellowship, the ERLC also has participated in meetings with state legislators and invited its staff to provide expert analysis on panels at ERLC-sponsored events. "Ultimately, we will never reduce the rate of criminals re-engaging in crime, if we do not change the way we incarcerate and rehabilitate our criminals". The FIRST STEP Act, if signed into law, certainly won't help with that. The final Senate version sought to address at least some concerns by, among other provisions, barring firearm offenders and fentanyl traffickers from earning time credits.

The bill follows the example of states such as Texas, South Carolina and Georgia that have boosted training and treatment programs for inmates in an effort to curb recidivism and save taxpayer dollars. And what happens when the reform conversation shifts to violent offenders, with law and order mentalities rubbing up against the beliefs of those who say our criminal justice system lacks mercy and doesn't focus enough on rehabilitation?

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