Author Topic: "First Step ACT" Prison Reform Bill  (Read 452 times)

"First Step ACT" Prison Reform Bill
« on: November 14, 2018, 06:30:57 PM »
I would like to see more significant changes but this is a step in the right direction.

Congress’s prison reform bill, explained: The First Step Act has Trump’s support — but faces some Democratic opposition.

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Jared Kushner may soon get his first big legislative breakthrough — with a prison reform bill.

The efforts of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law earned an endorsement last week from the president himself, who said at a White House summit on prison reform that if lawmakers get a bill to his desk, “I will sign it.” On Tuesday, Kushner’s favored bill, the First Step Act, was passed by the House of Representatives.

The bill would not reform or reduce how long people are sentenced to prison for, which has been the prime target of criminal justice reformers over the past few years. Instead, the bill focuses on rehabilitating people once they’re already in prison by incentivizing them, with the possibility of earlier release, to partake in rehabilitation programs. As Kushner explained at the White House summit, “The single biggest thing we want to do is really define what the purpose of a prison is. Is the purpose to punish, is the purpose to warehouse, or is the purpose to rehabilitate?”

But the second major step for the bill is the Senate, where it’s likely to face much stiffer opposition. The Senate opposition is all over the place — some prominent Democrats and Republicans argue that the bill doesn’t go far enough, while a Republican who blocked previous criminal justice reform efforts, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, appears to be working in secret to build opposition to the First Step Act because it goes too far.

Even if it does pass, though, the bill wouldn’t amount to a very big change in America’s criminal justice system. That’s in part because the federal prison system makes up a relatively small portion of the US’s incarcerated population. Beyond that, the bill pursues some fairly mild reforms; after all, it couldn’t have gotten approval from Trump, who’s described himself as “tough on crime,” if it did a lot to reduce America’s prison population.

Still, if it passes, the First Step Act would be the first major federal criminal justice reform in years. ...

- The bill encourages inmates to participate in more vocational and rehabilitative programs, by letting them get “earned time credits” that allow them to be released early to halfway houses or home confinement. Not only could this mitigate prison overcrowding, but the hope is that the education programs will reduce the likelihood that an inmate will commit another crime once released and, as a result, reduce both crime and incarceration in the long term. (There’s research showing that education programs do reduce recidivism.)

- The bill increases the amount of “good time credits” that inmates can earn. Inmates who avoid a disciplinary record can currently get credits of up to 47 days per year incarcerated. The bill increases the cap to 54, allowing well-behaved inmates to cut their prison sentence by an additional week for each year they’re incarcerated. The change applies retroactively, which could essentially allow some prisoners to be released the day the bill goes into effect.

- Since the vocational and rehabilitative programs that already exist in federal prisons have a huge waitlist, the bill would authorize more funding — $50 million a year over five years — to support more programs. It also directs cost savings toward reentry and anti-recidivism programs. (Although any allocation of funds will need to be approved through Congress’s formal appropriations process in the future.) ...
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Offline Baruch

Re: "First Step ACT" Prison Reform Bill
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2018, 07:35:59 PM »
Good intentions?  Actual reality is that American prisons today (but not when I was a boy) are incentivized to create semi-slave labor ... of the usual victims, by the usual victimizers.  Used to be a Black man might be oppressed in a chain gang down South, but that system went franchise, nationwide.
𐎍𐎜𐎜𐎟𐎌𐎀𐎍𐎎𐎀𐎀𐎚𐎀𐎟𐎍𐎜𐎜𐎟𐎁𐎀𐎍𐎉𐎀𐎀𐎚𐎀
luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Offline Shiranu

Re: "First Step ACT" Prison Reform Bill
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2018, 07:50:36 PM »
I have unfortunately become too much of a cynic but...

Quote
Instead, the bill focuses on rehabilitating people once they’re already in prison by incentivizing them, with the possibility of earlier release, to partake in rehabilitation programs.

My guess is that someone is looking to make as big of buck as possible through these programs, and these people have caught Kushner's ear. It wouldn't be the first, tenth, or a hundreth time a politician has hidden a way to line his (and his lobbyists') pocketbook by charging abhorrent amounts of tax payer money on organizations by pretending to do "good".
"Judge a moth by the beauty of its candle." - Rumi

Offline Baruch

Re: "First Step ACT" Prison Reform Bill
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2018, 07:54:52 PM »
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I have unfortunately become too much of a cynic but...

My guess is that someone is looking to make as big of buck as possible through these programs, and these people have caught Kushner's ear. It wouldn't be the first, tenth, or a hundreth time a politician has hidden a way to line his (and his lobbyists') pocketbook by charging abhorrent amounts of tax payer money on organizations by pretending to do "good".

That is bipartisan.  The difference between "do gooders" and "do badders" is the "do gooders" are less honest.
𐎍𐎜𐎜𐎟𐎌𐎀𐎍𐎎𐎀𐎀𐎚𐎀𐎟𐎍𐎜𐎜𐎟𐎁𐎀𐎍𐎉𐎀𐎀𐎚𐎀
luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

 

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