08 May, 2018 6:34 AM

Statement on Passage of the FIRST STEP Act Out of Committee

CONTACT: Alex Gudich | 415-240-2016 | alex@cut50.org

#cut50 Statement In Response to the Passage of the FIRST STEP Act Out of Committee

Van Jones, President and Co-founder of #cut50

“It’s taken a village to get this far on the FIRST STEP Act, but Congressman Hakeem Jeffries has been the unsung champion of this bill. In this environment, it is harder than it’s been in a long time to put partisan politics aside, reach across the aisle, and get something meaningful done. It has been especially hard to pass laws that benefit the black, brown and poor.

I am excited that the committee has been able to advance a bill that will change the direction of our federal prisons. The FIRST STEP Act would ensure people are prepared to come home from prison job-ready and have major incentives to pursue the programming that will enable them to succeed. The bill also includes important provisions for incarcerated women such as ending the shackling of women giving birth behind bars and providing hygiene items at no charge. It also expands compassionate release, giving elderly and terminally ill a pathway home. All of this is backed with a significant investment of $50,000,000 a year in funding over five years and mechanisms to hold the BOP accountable for implementing these changes.

To see many groups switch their positions from opposition or neutrality to now, voicing their support is a testament to Congressman Jeffries and Collins’ skill and hard work.

Democrats in Congress have also been moving from hard opposition toward a more favorable stance. That process will continue as this bill moves forward.

All Democrats and progressives should be wary that in the past, while moving criminal justice legislation, we have missed opportunities to do some good by holding out for too much, for too long. Now is not the time to risk the well being of federal prisoners, especially in the era of Trump.”




#cut50 works to cut crime and incarceration in all 50 states by translating local needs into smart safety solutions. The organization brings together unlikely allies—formerly and currently incarcerated individuals, community members, crime survivors, local elected officials, and law enforcement--to keep communities safe and families together.

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