Grassroots group marks today’s release of more than 2,000 individuals under the First Step Act by urging Congress and the administration to continue working to ensure the law’s success
Arlington, Va. – Today, thanks to a provision within the bipartisan First Step Act of 2018, more than 2,000 people will be released from federal prisons and return home to their families and communities. Already, thousands of individuals and their families have benefitted from the First Step Act, but more must be done to ensure the law’s success. If fully and properly implemented by the administration, the First Step Act will make our country safer by transforming the lives of many more incarcerated people who have earned a second chance.
Mark Holden, an Americans for Prosperity board member and a leading voice for criminal justice reform, released the following statement:
“So far, it’s clear that the First Step Act is working. Today, thousands of people who served their time and earned a second chance are returning to their communities and families. Now, it’s on all of us to unite around tearing down employment barriers and other obstacles to help these folks, and those who follow, successfully rejoin society.
“We should also continue recognizing the need to equip the more than 10,000 people who release from prison every week with the tools and training needed to improve their lives. As such, Congress and the administration must keep working together to properly implement the First Step Act and ensure its aims are fully realized. And states around the country should continue building on the momentum of the new law by passing smart on crime reforms that increase public safety and reduce the cycle of incarceration and recidivism.”
In December, Americans for Prosperity applauded Congress for passing the historic First Step Act, legislation which the grassroots group supports. 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.
- Makes federal law clear 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.
More opportunities and incentives for inmates to participate in evidence-based rehabilitation programs in prison, giving a better foundation for success after release, and allows for outside organizations to participate in the programming.
- 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.
For further information or to set up an interview, please send an email to GCipriano@afphq.org.
Through broad-based grassroots outreach, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is driving long-term solutions to the country’s biggest problems. AFP activists engage friends and neighbors on key issues and encourage them to take an active role in building a culture of mutual benefit, where people succeed by helping one another. AFP recruits and unites activists in 35 states behind a common goal of advancing policies that will help people improve their lives. For more information, visit www.americansforprosperity.org