U.S. Senate Passes Criminal Justice Reform Bill

Prison Inmate

This week, the U.S. Senate  passed a bill that allows for a sweeping overhaul of the federal prison system by a vote of 87-12. The House passed the bill by a vote of 358-36. It will now be sent to President Trump, who is expected to sign it on Friday. 

The bipartisan bill, known as the "First Step Act," would revise several sentencing laws, such as reducing the "three strikes" penalty for drug felonies from life behind bars to 25 years, as well as retroactively limiting the disparity in sentencing guidelines between crack and powder cocaine offenses. It also overhauls the federal prison system to help inmates earn reduced sentences and lower recidivism rates. The bill could shave a collective 53,000 years off the sentences of federal inmates over the next 10 years. The bill is touted as one that makes communities safer, while also saving the federal government money.

The bill had the support of such diverse groups as the American Civil Liberties Union, The Justice Action Network, Americans for Prosperity, and the Fraternal Order of Police.

Though the bill only affects inmates in the federal prison system, sentencing reform legislation is also happening in the states. This is likely to be an issue in the 2019 General Assembly as Missouri faces overcrowding in its state prisons.

December 31, 2018 - 8:16am
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