Earlier today, President Trump signed an improved final version of the First Step Act into law. The final version of this legislation represents a much-needed beginning in efforts to reform our nation’s sentencing laws, prison terms, and create effective rehabilitation programs. This final legislation represents years of hard work by a bipartisan group of mostly Senators, who greatly improved the bill which was sent to them by the U.S. House of Representatives. The House version was solely a modest version of prison reform; it did not make any changes to who was sentenced to prison, why, or for how long. The final version was strongly supported and promoted by some staff leadership within the White House, and contains some of the suggestions of the NAACP Washington Bureau, and it offers some important improvements to the current federal criminal justice system. It falls short however of providing the meaningful change that is required to make the system fair. Much more work will be needed as we push for a transformational change that will end mass incarceration and racial and ethnic minority disparities in prisons throughout America. The First Step Act, however, is a good beginning.
For a complete listing of how each Senator and House Member voted on the final bill, please review our Action Update.