WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on President Donald Trump announcing support for the First Step Act, a bipartisan sentencing and prison reform bill.
“I am very excited to have President Trump’s support for the First Step Act.
“This bipartisan legislation gives nonviolent offenders an earned second chance and should dramatically reduce the recidivism rate by focusing on skills necessary for people to stay out of prison.
“We can and should pass this bill before Congress adjourns for the year.”
Background on the First Step Act:
The First Step Act will reform America’s prisons to make our communities safer and our justice system fairer.
- Nearly all incarcerated Americans will one day leave prison and the goal of this legislation is to make sure they do not return.
- The First Step Act uses a targeted approach toward a specific population of Federal prisoners who will eventually be released.
- The First Step Act will promote prisoner participation in vocational training, educational coursework, or faith-based programs, and in turn help them successfully reenter society.
- Prisoners will be able to earn credits that reduce the amount of time spent in prison.
- As a result, prisoners will gain job skills, drug treatment, and education that prepare them to reenter American communities as productive members of society.
- The legislation also seeks to place Federal inmates closer to their communities in order to facilitate family visitation.
- This is a true first step in creating a fairer justice system by reforming mandatory minimums, which have created racially disparate outcomes and increased overcrowding and costs.
- The legislation reduces the enhanced penalties for certain non-violent repeat drug offenders and eliminates the three-strike mandatory life provision.
- Certain nonviolent offenders will be able to petition courts for a review of their sentence, which can be reduced only after the judge reviews all circumstances, including public safety, criminal history, and the nature of the offense.
Taking steps to better prepare inmates for reentry into our society and communities will help reduce recidivism.
- We can improve society for all by better equipping prisoners being released for successful reintegration into society.
- Today one-in-three American adults has some type of criminal record and more than two million Americans are in prisons, including 181,000 in Federal prison.
- More than 95% of these prisoners will eventually leave prison and face the challenge of restarting their lives.
- Our prisons can do much more to prepare inmates for release, addressing the fact that roughly 77% of state inmates and 38% of federal inmates are rearrested within five years of release.
The First Step Act enjoys widespread support across the political spectrum.
- Many of the reforms included in this legislation passed the House in an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 360–59 in May 2018.
- Republicans and Democrats in the Senate worked with the White House to craft a bipartisan sentencing reform compromise, which has been added to the legislation.
- So far, seven major police organizations, over 2,700 faith and evangelical leaders, and hundreds of conservative organizations and leaders support this legislation.