The bipartisan “First Step Act” looks to curb recidivism among non-violent drug offenders
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) supported S. 756, the First Step Act of 2018, which reduces mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and expands programs to curb recidivism.
“Congress has finally acted to reform our justice system to reduce recidivism and give certain non-violent prisoners a second chance when they reenter society,” Hartzler said. “We still have work to do, but this bill takes a step in the right direction by remaining tough on crime while reworking our justice system.”
Hartzler added that the First Step Act would reduce federal mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and allow courts to impose a shorter sentence than required by a mandatory minimum if specific conditions are met. Additionally, the bill would authorize $75 million annually from FY2019 – FY2023 for programs that work to reduce prisoners’ likelihood to reenter prison and allow certain federal prisoners to earn credits to serve their remaining sentences on home confinement (or a similar arrangement). Lastly, this legislation includes human rights protections like prohibiting the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners and limiting the use of solitary confinement on juveniles.
The bill has wide bipartisan support, passed in the Senate and was endorsed by the Trump Administration. The bill is also supported by the Heritage Foundation, which said, “The First Step Act… starts by using a validated risk-and-needs assessment of every federal inmate to identify who poses a low, medium, and high risk of committing crime again when they are eventually released. The legislation would incentivize each inmate to participate in evidence-based and data-driven programming to target behavioral changes… in order to prevent crime ‘farther down the line.’”
The First Step Act was signed into law by the President Friday afternoon.