According to the Huffington Post, President Donald Trump has endorsed a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill. The First Step Act would overhaul prison sentence laws in the United States.
“[The First Step Act would] make our communities safer and give former inmates a second chance at life after they have served their time,” said Trump, who endorsed the reform bill at the White House in mid-November. “We’re all better off when former inmates can receiver and re-enter society as law-abiding, productive citizens.”
This bill is one of the first major overhauls of prison sentencing legislation in decades, rolling back longstanding federal policies that disproportionately affect black inmates.
The bill was developed by one of Trump’s top advisors and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and a group of bipartisan lawmakers. It is designed to improve rehabilitation programs for former inmates and give judges more discretion when it comes to sentencing offenders for nonviolent crimes, especially when it comes to drug offenders. It’s estimated that 15% of the global population is currently living with a disability, and many inmates struggle with various physical and mental disabilities. Additionally, the bill was created to help federal inmates rehabilitate for life after prison by expanding employment, incentivizing participation in rehab programs, and other measures.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, released a joint statement praising the president’s endorsement and believe the new bill will enable proposal sponsors to “quickly take a critical first step towards reforming our criminal justice system.”
A lineup of celebrities and public figures also lobbied for the new reform bill, including Kim Kardashian West, who met with the president various times over the last few months to talk about the current prison system. In addition to Kardashian West, over 50 celebrities signed a letter calling on Congress to get the bill signed and passed before a legislative break in December. High-profile signees include Courtney Cox, Mark Cuban, Alyssa Milano, and Kanye West.
“At a time when our nation feels more divided than ever, one thing nearly all Americans agree on is the need to fix our broken criminal justice system,” added Holly Harris, executive director of the Justice Action Network.