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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed May 22nd, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 360 Yea / 59 Nay
      house Committees
      House Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations
    IntroducedMay 7th, 2018

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What is it?

This bill — the FIRST STEP Act — would implement reforms to the federal prison system to control corrections spending, manage the prison population, provide educational and vocational training to inmates so they can successfully reenter society, and reduce recidivism.

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) would be required to conduct risk- and needs-assessments for every offender upon sentencing and offer individualized, evidence-based recidivism reduction plans to all inmates. Programs could include vocational training, educational support, substance abuse treatment, mental healthcare, anger management courses, faith-based initiatives or other proven resources.

Inmates would be able to earn credits toward an alternative custody arrangement — such as a halfway house or home confinement — at the end of their prison sentences. Certain criminals would be ineligible for the alternative custody program, including high-risk sexual offenders, murderers, and others.

The BOP would be required to provide a secure storage area outside the secure perimeter for employees to store firearms or to allow for vehicle lock boxes for firearms so corrections officers can protect themselves if they’re ambushed when leaving work. BOP would also be required to offer de-escalation training as part of the regular training requirements of correctional officers.

The federal prison industries program would be expanded to provide more employment opportunities for inmates. BOP would be required to start pilot programs for youth mentorship and the training and therapy of rescue dogs, and it would also have to evaluate the current pilot program to treat heroin and opioid abuse through medication assisted treatment.

The bill also contains several reforms aimed at improving conditions for inmates, such as:

  • The compassionate elderly release provision of the Second Chance Act, which allows the prisoner to request his or her compassionate release if they meet the law’s requirements, would be reauthorized.

  • BOP rules on the use of restraints on pregnant inmates — which generally prohibit the use of restraints on pregnant inmates except for those who are an immediate and credible flight risk or threat of harm to herself, the baby, or others — would be codified into law.

  • BOP would be required to place prisoners at a correctional facility within 500 driving miles of their primary residence that’s as close to home as possible, unless the prisoner chooses to remain at their current facility.

The bill’s full title is the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act.

Impact

Prisoners and their families; corrections officers and BOP employees; communities and crime victims; and the BOP.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) introduced this bill to reform the federal prison system to reduce recidivism among prisoners:

“What we have in the FIRST STEP Act is a rare legislative opportunity to fulfill the demands of justice today while reducing future burdens on the criminal justice system. By implementing initiatives focused on rehabilitating individual men and women, we can promote human dignity in and beyond our prison system. This bill would reunite families, create skilled workers, make our streets safer and promote the wellbeing of people who will eventually rejoin society.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) added:

“The mass incarceration epidemic  is 50 years in the making. Fixing our broken criminal justice system will take an all-hands-on-deck effort from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. The FIRST STEP Act is a significant step in the right direction.”

Eric Holder, who served as U.S. Attorney General during the Obama administration, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post opposing this bill for not including sentencing reforms:

“The bill seeks to improve prison conditions -- such as by requiring that inmates be housed within 500 driving miles of their families and by prohibiting shackles on pregnant women. It also includes education, job training and other personal development programs, as well as a system of incentives to participate in the programs. These narrow reforms are important, but they do not require congressional action, nor do they deliver the transformative change we need. The only way to do that is by amending the bill to include comprehensive, bipartisan sentencing reform.”

This legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee on a 25-5 vote and has the support of 19 bipartisan cosponsors, including 10 Republicans and nine Democrats.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: mivpiv / iStock)

AKA

FIRST STEP Act

Official Title

To provide for programs to help reduce the risk that prisoners will recidivate upon release from prison, and for other purposes.

    A very wise man once told me this about inmates. (If you treat them like an inmate they’ll act like an inmate. However if you treat them like a man they’ll act like a man). I followed this philosophy throughout my career with the Federal Bureau Of Prisons and I can say that I rarely ever had any problems with the inmates I supervised. A little respect can go a long way. Always give them what they’ve got coming, good or bad, always be fair.
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    THE First Step would be to turn ALL private prisons over to the state. Statistics demonstrate that private prisons cost more to the taxpayers, have more injuries and fatalities to corrections officers and staff, and a higher recidivism rate than public prisons. Also, it has been demonstrated that there is much unethical acts surrounding private prisons, in which these corporations demand that police chiefs, district attorneys, judges and others do what they must to fill the prison cells. Take away greed, immorality and unethical behavior by Conservatives, and the Communities will experience less oppression and less family disruption and less costs to Americans, physically, emotionally and financially. Conservatism kills!!
    Like (48)
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    Since prisoners are already starved for the profits of the prison industry and since there is no sentence reform, I would reluctantly say no to this bill. Prisoners need real job training, real mental health treatment. The dog idea is superb, but I am also suspicious of using prisoners as slaves yet again. 500 miles! My clients in Richmond, CA would walk miles through dangerous violent streets to see me—how are people without cars or public transportation access to see prisoners 500 miles away? I wish Congress had to spend a month being poor so that our elected officials who actually care could understand what they are imposing on people. My two years working in a prison unit showed me prisoners are human beings like you and me with one more stress or one more mental illness. Prison reform—yes! Prison slavery—no! PS I studied 4 years to learn CBT. Guards?
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    For anyone out there wondering exactly what in the heck is recidivism. Think of the kid who keeps licking 9 volt batteries even after they have been shocked several times. Or, your desire to play just one more level of candy crush even when you have already been late 6 times to work this month. As for training prison guards to handle the complexities of CBT which is the one of the few therapies proven effective for recidivism, I can’t see how it would hurt. But, it is a pretty tall order. Simple answer, the best way for us to stop repeat offenders....Don't re-elect them! 🎟 Recidivism (/rɪˈsɪdɪvɪzəm/; from recidive and ism, from Latin recidīvus "recurring", from re- "back" and cadō "I fall") is the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after they have either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or have been trained to extinguish that behavior. It is also used to refer to the percentage of former prisoners who are rearrested for a similar offense.[1] The term is frequently used in conjunction with criminal behavior and substance abuse. (Recidivism is a synonym for "relapse", which is more commonly used in medicine and in the disease model of addiction.) For example, scientific literature may refer to the recidivism of sexual offenders, meaning the frequency with which they are detected or apprehended committing additional sexual crimes after being released from prison for similar crimes.-defined by our friendly Wikipedia
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    The reforms included in this bill to the prison system are great. However, their effectiveness will be reduced if we don’t also include reductions in prison time as well. The longer that people stay in prison especially ones that were put in prison for non-violent crimes, the higher the likelihood that they will become hardened inmates who will be harder to rehabilitate.
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    It's my personal opinion that the government should control all correctional facilities, and should move toward implementing more of a rehabilitation stance alongside the incarceration stance in place now. Prison now is 99% doing time & 1% survival. Leaving no room for rehabilitation, which is the only way to start lowering repeat offenders nationwide.
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    This bill doesn’t reform prison sentencing. Over 70 Civil rights groups oppose this legislation. Please vote no.
    Like (9)
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    The most important thing to do to stop recidivism is educational programs in prisons. Training for a better job or other forms of education should be a part of any prison program. So many career prisoners become so because of poverty and lack of education, so if they come out, no more knowledgable than they went in, they have very little chance of staying out of prison again. I they can be trained for a better chance at gainful employment when they come out, they have a way to avoid the cycle of poverty and crime. Since keeping people in prison is a lot more expensive than their education would be, this type of program just makes financial as well as humane sense!
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    Step one- END FOR PROFIT PRISONS. Step two- mean what you say. If a prison sentence pays the debt to society then don’t punish prisoners for the rest of their life.
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    This is a good start. We do need sentencing reform though, and also a end to the for-profit prison system. Reducing recidivism and rehabilitation for inmates is in direct opposition to a profitable prison business. They have mutually exclusive goals. For-Profit Prisons must end.
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    How bout we start INCARCERATING LAWMAKERS/SENATORS/CONGRESSMEN who commit crimes against our country. LOCK THEM UP!!!
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    “H.R. 5682— the FIRST STEP Act” I recommend strongly passage of this bill H.R. 5682— the FIRST STEP Act — Which would implement reforms to the federal prison system to control corrections spending, manage the prison population, provide educational and vocational training to inmates so they can successfully reenter society, and reduce recidivism. This bipartisan bill makes important reforms to the federal prison system to control costs while improving programs to reduce recidivism when prisoners are released. 5*22*18
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    My vote of ‘Yay’ is also a vote ‘Nay’. Is there a reason the bipartisan committee couldn’t also include lesser sentences for non-violent crimes? Why do we always go halfway? Why isn’t there a plan to look at the whole issue of prison reform and budgeting? For instance, if there was a patient who has cataracts in both eyes, wouldn’t one physician treat both eyes? It would be costly and frankly nonsense that one physician would treat the right eye, while another treats the left eye.
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    We have the largest prison population in the world and way too high rates of rescindivism. We should be helping these people become productive members of society not throw them away.
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    This bipartisan bill makes important reforms to the federal prison system to control costs while improving programs to reduce recidivism when prisoners are released. However, please consider expanding and putting forth another bill for non-violent offenders.
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    This is a first step. Next thing is to stop jailing people for any little thing, especially focusing on people of color.
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    The prison system in this country has a lot of issues. If we can take steps to reduce offenders' chances of recidivism and improve offender's life we should take them. Prisons in the U.S. are getting overpopulated. The government needs to take steps to reduce the chances recidivism and cut down on these kinds of issues. They need to help them with mental health issues and provide them with a descent education to allow them to become productive members of society.
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    Amazing! These things were granted years ago! What happened? Why is this having to be made law again? By all means, pass these common sense laws for Step I. Then get busy on Step 1.5 — the reform of sentencing guidelines that reflect reality, not racist, prejudicial, knee-jerk reaction sentencing laws. It boggles the mind that these things weren’t legalized in the 1970s and 1980s.
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    At first glance it looked like it could help, but there is a bunch of stuff buried in it like allowing guards to store weapons in their cars. I’m all for personal protection and concealed carry but why is their protection more important than others? No more carve outs.
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    The prison system desperately needs to give more help for the inmates to become confident, secure in knowing they CAN change, they are still with value as a human being. There should be programs to assist them in endeavors to change. But they have to be defeated within themselves enough to WANT TO change. There should be a recidivism rate much lower than is is and has been. So, yes, extend programs for some to shorten or even remove their jail time, by more in-depth and consistent opportunities within the prisons themselves. The already-shamefully wealthy should have told Trump: “I would like 60 percent of my tax break to be applied toward prison reform”; or “I would like to give to medical research”, or.... but good luck with that ever occurring. How about more money going into solving white collar crime, starting in the oval and spreading out to the cult sheep within his circle of of crime.
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