Skip Navigation
Analysis

Barr Pledges to Implement FIRST STEP Act

"I will faithfully implement the law," the attorney general nominee testified.

January 15, 2019

Leading up to Tuesday's Senate confirmation hearings for William Barr, President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, there were concerns about Barr's hardline record on criminal justice, and his level of commitment to implementing the recently passed FIRST STEP Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that includes major federal sentencing reforms. 

Barr sought to put those concerns to rest in his testimony Tuesday. 

"Will you commit to fully implementing the FIRST STEP Act?" asked Sen. Chuck Grassley, a key champion of the law.

"Yes, senator," Barr responded. Barr said that when he was last attorney general in the early 1990s, the violent crime rate was high and prison sentences were short. The system had broken down, he said. Barr argued that the growth of the prison population helped bring crime down since then, something the Brennan Center strongly disputes. But he acknowledged that times have changed.

"I have no problem with the approach of reforming the prison structure and I will faithfully implement the law."

(Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)