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New data demands congressional action
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Americans for Prosperity-Indiana (AFP-IN) released the results of a new survey showing that 69% of likely voters want the U.S. Senate to pass the bipartisan FIRST STEP Act in the next few months. The legislation would create access to second chances for individuals transitioning to life after prison and reduce the number of incarcerated Americans – an idea 68% of likely voters say is important.
The survey follows new research from Florida State University that shows both male and female inmates crave more opportunities to work, learn, practice a faith, improve their health, and spend more time developing personal relationships than they currently do while incarcerated.
“Indiana should be a place where folks who have earned second chances, get them. Hoosiers ardently support giving deserving inmates a fair chance to rebuild their lives, reunite with their families, and reenter their communities after paying their debt to society,” said AFP-IN State Director Justin Stevens. “Senators Young and Donnelly have an incredible chance to reduce crime and break down barriers to opportunity for folks who deserve second chances. Helping inmates transition to life after prison would lower recidivism, save taxpayer money, prepare folks to tackle future challenges, and lead to safer and stronger Indiana communities.”
The FIRST STEP Act, which the U.S. the House of Representatives already passed overwhelmingly, would create evidence-based risk and needs assessment tools that would be used to prepare incarcerated individuals to successfully reenter their communities as law-abiding individuals. The entire Indiana delegation in the House of Representatives voted for the legislation. The FIRST STEP Act would also ban the shackling of pregnant inmates, allow individuals to earn good time credits of up to 54 days per year, allow outside programs into federal prisons to enhance rehabilitation and reentry, and require prisoners, based on their level of risk, to be placed in facilities within 500 driving miles of their primary residence.
Freedom Partners recently released a national poll showing that 70% of likely voters approve of the FIRST STEP Act, and that nearly half of them would have a negative view of Senate Republicans if they fail to pass the bill.
The FIRST STEP Act is Based on Successful Reforms Implemented in States Like Texas. In 2007, the Texas Legislature projected the state would need 17,000 new prison beds over the next five years. After implementing criminal justice reforms, including expanded drug courts and mental health programs, crime dropped to levels not seen since the 1960s. The state closed four prisons and has plans to close four more — and the state saved $3 billion in the process. (Mark Holden & Brooke Rollins, Austin-American Statesman, 2/9/18)
White House Council of Economic Advisers: “On average, programs that address the prisoner’s mental health or substance abuse problems may reduce the cost of crime by about $0.92 to $3.31 per taxpayer dollar spent on prison reform and long-run incarceration costs by $0.55 to $1.96, for a total return of $1.47 to $5.27 per taxpayer dollar.” (White House Council of Economic Advisers Report, 5/18/18)
President Trump on the FIRST STEP Act: “Get a bill to my desk. I will sign it, and it’s going to be strong, it’s going to be good, it’s going to be what everybody wants.” (President Trump, Remarks at the White House, 5/18/18)
For further information or an interview, reach Lorenz Isidro at LIsidro@afphq.org or (703) 887-7724.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) exists to recruit, educate, and mobilize citizens in support of the policies and goals of a free society at the local, state, and federal level, helping every American live their dream – especially the least fortunate. AFP has more than 3.2 million activists across the nation, a local infrastructure that includes 36 state chapters, and has received financial support from more than 100,000 Americans in all 50 states. For more information, visit www.AmericansForProsperity.org