Conversations around criminal justice reform have recently focused largely on changing police and prosecutor practices. But it is important to ensure that the nation’s indigent defense system is adequately funded for the country to better achieve equal justice.
By passing the FIRST STEP Act, the Senate unequivocally spoke out against our country’s addiction to mass incarceration. 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.
If estimates hold, the downturn in the overall crime rate will be similar to last year’s drop. Overall, despite upticks in 2015 and 2016, crime rates are still on a downward trend and have been since 1990.
These proposed amendments would stigmatize incarcerated people, block incentives that encourage those who need it most from participating in recidivism-reduction programming, and risk retraumatizing victims of crime.
This bill will be the biggest reform to our justice system in a generation. It’s indeed a first step, an initial salvo in ending the country’s miserable addiction to mass incarceration. But it is a must-pass bill.
The measure has the support of pivotal Republicans and Democrats in Congress, President Donald Trump’s senior White House advisors, and advocacy groups including the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and law enforcement groups.