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Originally Published: U.S. Senate
Written by: Sen.Thom Tillis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) co-sponsored the First Step Act, bipartisan legislation to reform America’s criminal justice system. The First Step Act combines prison reform proposals that overwhelmingly passed in the House of Representatives earlier this year with sentencing reform provisions from the broadly bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February.

The comprehensive package aims to reduce crime by helping low-risk inmates prepare to successfully rejoin society through participation in proven recidivism reduction and professional development programs. It also improves fairness in prison sentences by recalibrating certain mandatory minimum sentences, granting greater discretion for judges in sentencing of low-level, nonviolent drug crimes and clarifying congressional intent on sentencing enhancements for certain crimes involving firearms. It also preserves the maximum potential sentences for violent and career criminals. The legislation also allows petitions for retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act to be considered on an individual basis to reduce sentence disparities between crack and powder cocaine offenses.

“One of my proudest moments as Speaker of the House in North Carolina was passing the Justice Reinvestment Act, a landmark state law that implemented a number of commonsense, bipartisan reforms that resulted in reduced crime, fewer prisons, and lower recidivism rates in North Carolina. With the First Step Act, we now have the opportunity to implement similar, once in a generation criminal justice reforms at the federal level,” said Senator Thom Tillis. “These commonsense reforms will make our communities safer, modernize outdated and unfair sentencing laws and provide federal prisoners with the tools they need to return to society and become productive members of our communities. Chairman Grassley’s leadership has been unparalleled, and his relentless efforts to forge a bipartisan compromise on such a difficult issue should be applauded. I look forward to working with Chairman Grassley to build support for the First Step Act.”

The First Step Act is endorsed by a number of law enforcement groups, including the nation’s largest police group. It’s also now supported by 172 former federal prosecutors including two former Republican U.S. attorneys general, two former deputy attorneys general and a former director of the FBI along with sheriffs from 34 states across the country. The National Governor’s Association, which represents the governors of all 50 states, also praised the bill. And a broad coalition of conservative, progressive and faith groups also support the bill.

More information on the legislation can be found here:
Bill text
Fact sheet
Section-by-section summary