FIRST STEP Act Will Prepare Prisoners to Leave Prison Better Than They Enter

Alexandria, VA – May 22, 2018 – The American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF) hailed today’s passage of the FIRST STEP Act, H.R. 5682, a major reform of the way federal prisons prepare inmates for release. The House of Representatives passed the bill with an overwhelming bi-partisan vote, a rarity in today’s political climate.

“Our federal prisons are broken, with over 40% of prisoners returning to prison within three years of release”, said Pat Nolan, Director of the ACUF Center for Criminal Justice Reform. “This bill aims to fix our broken prison system by focusing them on preparing inmates to be good neighbors when they are released,”

David Safavian, ACU’s general counsel and deputy director of the Center for Criminal Justice Reform, noted: “Ninety-five percent of those currently incarcerated will return home eventually. Obviously, we want them to be better versions of themselves when they leave prison. The principles embodied in the First Step Act will help offenders do just that.”

This legislation enacts many of the conservative reforms that ACUF has advocated for several years. Some of the important reforms that the First Steps Act will implement are:

  • Prepare inmates for release with programs that have been proven to reduce the number of prisoners who commit new crimes, meaning there are fewer victims, more ex-offenders becoming contributing members of society, and less cost to the taxpayers.
  • Encourage family visits by placing inmates within 500 driving miles, of their home, subject to security requirements.
  • Encourage faith-based and community volunteers to provide beneficial programs that the government can’t afford to provide
  • Protect the dignity of incarcerated women by prohibiting placing them in shackles during childbirth and providing them hygiene products.
  • Allow terminally ill inmates to return home to be with their families and friends before passing away

The FIRST STEP Act is part of President Trump’s Prison Reform Initiative. The bill received a large boost last Friday at a White House event at which the President and Vice President called for passage of this legislation. “I am very impressed with the skill and dedication of Jared Kushner in developing this proposal and building a strong and bi-partisan coalition to support it. The FIRST STEP Act is the most significant prison reform in over two decades of my work. It shifts the federal prisons from merely warehousing prisoners to preparing them to be good neighbors,” Nolan concluded.

The mission of the American Conservative Union Foundation is to educate Americans about conservative solutions to the country’s most pressing problems. ACUF’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform promotes policies that improve public safety, reduce government cost, and protect human dignity. Prison Reform is a high priority for ACUF and it has been highlighted at ACUF’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for several years. For more information, please go to our website.

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