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AFP-GA: One Step Closer to the FIRST STEP ACT

Nov 14, 2018 by AFP

Atlanta, GA – Today, Americans for Prosperity- Georgia (AFP-GA) commended President Trump for endorsing H.R. 5682, the FIRST STEP Act, co-authored in the U.S. House by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). The FIRST STEP ACT which passed the House of Representatives earlier this year 360-59, makes critical reforms to the federal criminal justice system by focusing on rehabilitating federally incarcerated people and giving them the tools needed to successfully reenter society upon release from prison. The version now being considered by the U.S. Senate also includes four federal sentencing reforms to ensure fairer and more proportionate punishments. The FIRST STEP ACT has yet to be scheduled in the Senate for a floor vote.

AFP-GA state director Michael Harden issued the following statement:

“Americans for Prosperity-Georgia commends President Trump on his endorsement of the FIRST STEP Act which will reduce crime and recidivism, make our communities safer, and correct some of our most outdated and ineffective federal sentencing laws. This bipartisan legislation, authored by Congressman Doug Collins, goes a long way toward fixing our broken criminal justice system, and the compassionate reforms made within the FIRST STEP ACT are simply commonsense. We shouldn’t shackle female inmates while they’re in labor, we shouldn’t lock up first-time, non-violent offenders for life, and we should encourage prisoners to complete evidence-based reentry programs. As a leader in the criminal justice reform movement, Georgia has shown that a smart-on-crime, soft-on-taxpayers approach makes us all safer and helps improve people who deserve a second chance. We urge Senator McConnell to bring the FIRST STEP ACT to the floor as soon as possible.”

Background

THE FIRST STEP ACT:

  • The FIRST STEP Act requires the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to place inmates no more than 500 driving miles from home, helping spouses, parents, and children more practically visit their family members behind bars and making it easier for inmates to reintegrate into society upon release.
  • Fixes a mistake in federal law to ensure that all well-behaved prisoners not serving life sentences can accrue 54 days of “good time credit” off their sentences per year, instead of the 47 per year that 178,000 inmates currently receive.
  • Directs the BOP to let low-risk low-needs inmates serve home confinement for up to 6 months of the end of their sentences
  • Retroactively applies the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity from 100:1 to 18:1, to current inmates.
  • Expands eligibility for the federal “safety valve” (18 U.S.C. § 3553(f)) to keep more low-level drug offenders from incurring mandatory minimums meant for high-level drug traffickers, creating more proportional punishments.
  • Eliminates first-time “stacking” charges (18 U.S.C. C. § 924(c)) that add extra mandatory minimums on top of a sentence if the defendant committed an applicable crime while possessing a gun, whether it was used in the crime or not.
  • Reduces excessive 20-year and life-without-parole mandatory sentences for drug offenders with prior drug convictions under 21 U.S.C. § 841 and § 851. Having a drug relapse shouldn’t warrant life behind bars. FIRST STEP corrects our priorities by reducing mandatory punishments for past drug offenders while applying the original minimums to defendants who have already committed serious violent felonies.