House Passes Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Bill

The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, sending the legislation to President Trump for signature. A rare bipartisan victory, the First Step Act was advocated for by both the conservative Koch network and the American Civil Liberties Union. The act was blocked earlier this month by a group of GOP senators, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who argued that the act was soft on crime and would take up the little time left before the end of the year. But support from Trump pushed the legislation through to a successful vote in the House on Tuesday.

The act aims to combat recidivism—the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend—by offering more job training behind bars, and establishes a risk and needs assessment system to better classify a former inmate’s risk in society. The law also dials back on the “three strikes” law to give 25 years instead of life in prison. However, as the name suggests, the act is only a step in tackling criminal reform. The legislation will only relax some mandatory-minimum sentences for drug related offenses, allowing judges to sentence people to less than the mandatory amount of time for nonviolent drug crimes. “We were able to look at the human faces woven into the lines of this bill and vote to help them rebuild their lives," Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said in a statement.