The Senate voted 87-12 to approve a bipartisan criminal justice bill supported by President Trump on Tuesday evening.
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform Bill, that would roll back what are seen as excessively punitive criminal justice policies that have been in place since the crackdown on crime in the 1980s. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) called the legislation "perhaps the most significant bill to reform our criminal justice system in almost a decade".
"This is a great bi-partisan achievement for everybody", Trump tweeted moments after the vote.
"The First Step Act will help keep our streets safe and it offers a fresh start to those who've put in the work to get right with the law while paying their debt to society", Grassley said on the Senate floor after the vote.
CoreCivic, the largest private prison contractor in the US, spent $840,000 on lobbying through the first nine months of 2018, focusing on various subjects regarding private prisons, but saying it does not advocate for or against policies "that would determine the basis for an individual's incarceration or detention". It gives judges a degree of latitude in deciding whether to hand down mandatory minimum sentences or whether to impose sentences that conform with "three strikes" rules. The latter provision will result in reduced sentences for approximately 3,000 crack cocaine offenders in federal prison.
Sasse also broke with several other Libertarian-leaning senators, like Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who openly supported it. It has been hailed by scores of conservative and liberal advocacy groups.
One amendment would have excluded more prisoners from participating in educational and training programs that allow them to earn credits.
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Although the First Step Act only would apply to the 180,000 people in federal prisons, Mizrahi points out that the overwhelming support the bill has received from both sides of the aisle in Washington could help spur criminal justice reforms at all levels of government.
The House approved the bill 358-36, sending it to Trump's desk for his signature. You've got literally the National Association of Manufacturers, Fox News and Sean Hannity on the same page with Nancy Pelosi, Cory Booker, the ACLU, #cut50. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Senators voted 87-12 for the First Step Act, which is created to promote the rehabilitation and societal reentry of prisoners while maintaining public safety.
The advocacy group added that the legislation is "by no means flawless - but we're in the midst of a mass incarceration crisis and the time to act is now". Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who introduced amendments including one that would require victims be notified before a prisoner was released early.
Before the final vote, the bill's supporters fended off several amendments considered "legislative poison pills" that they said were created to kill the bipartisan compromise that was been carefully negotiated among Democratic and GOP lawmakers, as well as the Trump administration.
Despite supporting the reform, Democrat lawmakers warned against complacency about what has been achieved in improving the justice system.
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