Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Biggest Criminal Justice Reform in a Generation

December 18, 2018

Media Contact: Rebecca Autrey, rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu646-292-8316

New York, NY – The Senate advanced the biggest criminal justice reform bill in a generation today when lawmakers passed the FIRST STEP Act. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it’s expected to pass, and then on to the White House for President Trump’s likely approval. The following statement is from Inimai Chettiar, director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. 

“This is a big deal. Today, the Senate unequivocally spoke out against our country’s addiction to mass incarceration. By passing the FIRST STEP Act, lawmakers are backing long-overdue fixes to some of the most broken parts of our justice system that for too long have been overly-punitive and downright unfair. 

“We thank Senators Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin in particular for their years of unwavering commitment to seeing this through, and for insisting that sentencing reform had to be part of any criminal justice reform bill. It’s a stance the Brennan Center shared, along with a diverse array of partner organizations, and we are happy to see these key changes move closer to becoming law after six long years of vigorous advocacy.

“We call on the House to pass the FIRST STEP Act and send it to President Trump’s desk. But as important as the FIRST STEP Act’s passage would be, it’s also imperative that this not be the only step. Many remain behind bars, sentenced under the decades-old draconian framework that congressional leaders modified today. Now we must focus our efforts on bigger and bolder widespread reforms that will make our system more fair and more humane. We know better, and we must do better.”

For more on the Justice Program’s work, click here.