Letter to Congress on the FIRST STEP Act

The new prison reform bill being considered by the House Judiciary Committee, the FIRST STEP Act, includes several important reforms and improves on prior legislation. But any true reform effort must take steps to reduce the number of people entering prison in the first place, which this bill does not do.

May 8, 2018
The Brennan Center wrote a letter to House Judiciary Committee leaders ahead of a markup vote on a prison reform bill that, experts say, does not make the scale of changes necessary to fix our broken justice system. Inimai Chettiar and Ames Grawert write: "The federal prison system currently fails to provide effective reentry and rehabilitation services. Reforms to address that problem, and improve overall conditions of confinement, are necessary, and the FIRST STEP Act marks progress toward that goal. But we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pass comprehensive criminal justice reform. If Congress were to advance the FIRST STEP Act without sentencing reform, it would effectively cede its own leadership on criminal justice reform and let the President and Attorney General set the terms of the debate. This would derail the best chance in years for real criminal justice reform — a tragic loss for racial justice."
 
The Center was joined in its concerns by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP, ACLU, and other groups, who wrote a similar letter
 

Letter to Congress on the FIRST STEP Act