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First Step clears first hurdle in Senate in win for Trump

First Step clears first hurdle in Senate in win for Trump

In a rare show of bipartisan unity, Congress approved a sweeping bipartisan criminal justice reform bill on Thursday that was pushed by both liberals and conservatives.

The Bill, which had wide bipartisan support (only 12 Republicans voted against it), makes it easier for federal offenders to earn early release from prison, lowering mandatory federal sentences, expanding job training and other interventions to reduce recidivism.

An inmate stands at his cell door at a maximum security facility in Arizona.

"The First Step Act", Grassley said, "takes lessons from history and from states - our laboratories of democracy - to reduce crime, save taxpayer dollars and strengthen faith and fairness in our criminal justice system".

The bill will now head to the House to be cleared before it will go to the president's desk to be signed.

".This will keep our communities safer, and provide hope and a second chance, to those who earn it".

"While the bill has marginally improved from earlier versions, I'm disappointed my amendments to exclude child molesters from early release and to protect victims' rights were not adopted", Cotton said. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and John Kennedy of Louisiana, who said the bill endangered public safety. She said on social media Tuesday that, "Reforming our nation's troubled criminal justice system is a matter that deserves the Senate's full attention and should not be rushed through at the end of the year".

The First Step Act won't affect most prisoners.

Inmates walk the exercise yard at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville California
Inmates walk the exercise yard at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville California

But while he initially voted to advance the bill on Monday, he said it did not address concerns about its sentencing provisions from law enforcement groups in his state. Judges will also get more room to circumvent mandatory minimum sentences and places restrictions on the practice of "stacking" - where an offender could get decades extra in jail for committing an offence while also carrying a firearm.

"It also incentivizes prisoners to participate in programs created to reduce the risk of recidivism, with the reward being an earlier release to either home confinement or a halfway house to complete their sentence", adds the article.

Media captionWhy does USA still have "debtors" prisons'?

Passing the Senate, it had picked up the support of hardened anti-Trump Democrats, including Sen.

While the president in the past has gone so far as to call for the death penalty for drug dealers, the president has gotten on board with a bill that aims to loosen sentencing guidelines for some nonviolent drug offenses.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the bill already carves out some 60 crimes that make prisoners ineligible for early release to a halfway house or home confinement. The cause brought together unlikely allies from conservative donors like the Koch Brothers to the the American Civil Liberties Union.

"This bill was declared dead I think at least a dozen times", Jessica Jackson Sloan, co-founder of the criminal justice advocacy group #cut50, said.

The advocacy group added that the legislation is "by no means ideal - but we're in the midst of a mass incarceration crisis and the time to act is now".




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