WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, the House passed the FIRST STEP Act– bipartisan legislation cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-16) to lower recidivism rates and help individuals convicted of nonviolent crimes reenter society. The FIRST STEP Act would introduce evidence-based programming in prisons to better equip federal inmates to successfully re-enter society after their sentences are served.
“Nonviolent prisoners deserve a second chance to be productive members of society,” said Rep. Smucker.“Offering better programming in our federal correctional facilities will help former inmates reenter society with lower rates of recidivism and will help reduce the financial burden on our correctional system. Importantly, this legislation also allows nonprofit and faith-based organizations to provide programming to inmates. The first step towards successful reentry into society starts before inmates leave the prison, and I’m glad to work across the aisle to help achieve that success.”
Key provisions of this legislation include:
- Additional resources and funding for activities in federal prisons that have been proven to reduce recidivism rates, such as faith-based mentoring, family building programs, and worker training programs
- Allow eligible, nonviolent offenders to participate in a program where they can earn time credits for good behavior that would result in serving the remainder of their sentence in halfway homes, home confinement, or under community supervision
- Requires that prisoners be placed in facilities located nearer to their families
- Ensures that female inmates have access to certain health care products
- Ensures that individuals leaving custody receive identification documents that are often prerequisites for employment
- Requires the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to initiate a pilot program for youth mentorship and the training and therapy of rescue dogs
- Requires the BOP to submit a report and evaluation of the current pilot program to treat heroin and opioid abuse through medication-assisted treatment
The FIRST STEP Act passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on May 9, 2018 by a vote of 25-5.
Organizations supporting this legislation include:
- American Conservative Union
- Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
- Christian Community Development Association
- Commonwealth Foundation
- Correctional Ministries and Chaplains Association
- Council for Christian Colleges and Universities
- Council of State Governments Justice Center
- Faith and Freedom Coalition
- Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)
- Heritage Action
- Just Detention International
- National Association of Evangelicals
- National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
- National Latino Evangelical Coalition
- Right on Crime
The text of the legislation is available here.
Source: Lloyd Smucker, U.S. House of Representatives, 16th District
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