United States Senate Approves Massive New Criminal Justice Reform Bill

Christmas comes early for President Trump Senate passes First Step Act

The overwhelming support of The First Step Act appears to largely be attributed to President Trump's stamp of approval, who has publicly endorsed the bill over the last few months.

"The First Step Act 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", said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring it to the floor for a vote.

"Some of the people involved in that played some critical roles coming out of that in criminal justice reform just because I think there is also a religious piece of this where people sit back and they look at the criminal justice system and say to themselves, 'Is this really right?"

"This is a great bi-partisan achievement for everybody", Trump tweeted moments after the vote.

Mr. Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, has been working with senators and private sector stakeholders to make improvements to the country's prison and sentencing policies, and has been acknowledged by members of both parties as key to securing White House support. "A wonderful thing for the United States of America!" he tweeted.

The bill would overhaul the U.S. justice system by giving more discretion to judges during sentencing, and by strengthening prisoner rehabilitation efforts.

The bill would reduce the life sentence for some drug offenders with three convictions, or "three strikes", to 25 years.

Another provision allows about 2,600 federal prisoners sentenced in crack cocaine cases before August 2010 to petition for reduced penalties.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton has been a vocal opponent of the bill, and added amendments which would have barred more felons from participating in the bill's earned-time credit program, along with other hard-line proposals. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said the nation's prisons are full of Americans who are struggling with mental illness and addiction and who are overwhelmingly poor.

"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. "We want to punish repeat offenders, but we do not want our federal prisons to become nursing homes", said Rep.

"This is something I have believed in for a long time", said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. "That's probably true. But what I hope you realize that most people who get out under this bill a bit early are going to contribute mightily", said Sen.

"It's about moneys and morals- being smart on money and giving people the chance that they need", Collins said.

Passing the Senate, it had picked up the support of hardened anti-Trump Democrats, including Sen. But in a brief statement Tuesday night, Rubio vaguely said the bill "did not address serious concerns raised by local law enforcement, federal prosecutors and constituents in Florida about the sentencing reforms in this bill". Big questions remain about how to end irrational mass incarceration and other issues.

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