Trump's Non-Reform "First Step Act"

"First Step" Act, my foot. If this bill passes, it will be the last time federal criminal justice reform is given a thought by Trump. There will be no sentencing reform and no "second step." From the Atlantic:

“The bill is a tempting half-measure, but lawmakers should resist the lure,” Holder wrote in a Monday op-ed for The Washington Post, warning that passing a narrow bill now would “derail momentum” for the broader set of changes Democrats and a coalition of Republicans have sought for years.

More than 100 civil rights organizations have written a letter opposing the bill. The federal prison workers union opposes the bill.

Here is the letter by Senator Durbin, Senator Harris, Senator Booker, Representative Jackson Lee, and Representative Lewis explaining why they oppose the bill. [More...]

In my view, the First Step Act is not even a tempting half-measure since the limited opportunities it creates don't apply to all federal prisoners. The categories of exclusion are too broad. The extra time credits don't shorten the sentence. They just allow more time in a
a halfway house, home confinement, or community supervision for those who are not excluded (like removable non-citizens). The "Risk Assessment Tool" will be chosen by the Attorney General, and studies of prior such tools have shown them to be embedded with racial and class bias.

The Senate bill by Grassley at least addresses some sentencing issues and provides relief from some mandatory minimum sentences.

Donald Trump picked an Attorney General who is extraordinarily opposed to sentencing reform. If the prison reform bill is passed, there will be no second step with sentencing reform until Trump leaves office.

Don't let Republicans convince you this bill is a positive step. It will be the only step, it will not shorten sentences, it will not reduce mass incarceration or the absurd amount of money we spend on incarceration, it will not lessen recidivism, and it is under-inclusive and discriminatory as written. Call your Senators and tell them to reject the House bill unless Grassley's bill or another meaningful sentencing reform bill is passed with it.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Families Against Mandatory Minimums (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Peter G on Thu May 24, 2018 at 10:38:40 PM EST
    a group I support, is one of the few crim justice reform organizations that has endorsed this bill as a worthwhile small step, and the most we're likely to get for a year or two.

    I read their position (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Fri May 25, 2018 at 11:56:17 PM EST
    and disagree with it. Read the text of Trump's bill and let us know how many of your clients will benefit. We need sentencing reform together with prison reform. By passing only prison reform, we're shelving the opportunity or sentencing reform until Trump is gone. I agree the other bill isn't enough sentencing reform but the Democrats have to at least bark loud enough in demanding sentencing reform that the public becomes more familiar with the issue and why its needed and how it will benefit them (at a minimum, lowering mass incarceration will save us a ton of money).

    With all the talk (none / 0) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu May 24, 2018 at 05:23:55 PM EST
    Of sliding toward toward totalitarianism it might be good to take a step back and see we have 5% of the global population and 25% of the global incarcerated population.

    How far do we really have to slide?