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Press Release

Brennan Center Welcomes Potential Compromise on Federal Criminal Justice Reform

If key proposals are included, the bipartisan reform bill would reduce mass incarceration.

August 3, 2018

New York, N.Y. –  The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law today expressed optimism about a criminal justice reform bill that now appears to both include sentencing adjustments and have the support of key Republicans, Democrats, and President Donald Trump. Under the compromise, a White House-backed bill — called the FIRST STEP Act — would be amended to include provisions from the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act to shorten unnecessarily long sentences.
“It’s not over until it’s over, but we’re cautiously optimistic that even in a divided political climate, our nation’s leaders can come together to begin solving our mass incarceration crisis,” said Ames Grawert, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “If this compromise materializes and includes key parts of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, the final bill would have our support and could win over other key leaders on the left and right.”
The Brennan Center has been working alongside allies on both sides of the aisle to reach this compromise, calling on Congress to either pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act on its own or include similar reforms in the FIRST STEP Act. The Center has specifically called for provisions that would: lower mandatory minimum sentences for people with prior non-violent drug convictions; expand relief from mandatory minimums; eliminate some of the worst sentencing enhancements; and retroactively apply the Fair Sentencing Act.
The provisions proposed this week would be added to the First Step Act, a modest prison reform bill passed by the House earlier this year. Throughout the spring, the Brennan Center and a number of civil rights groups argued for a more comprehensive bill, and pressured Republicans in the Senate to add sentencing reform provisions.

For more information or to connect with a Brennan Center expert, contact Rebecca Autrey at or 646–292–8316.