Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in support of the First Step Act, bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation which passed the House today by a vote of 358-36.
“For too long, our broken criminal justice system has harshly condemned those who have offended and served their sentences to failure. Draconian sentencing practices disproportionately hurt communities of color and have led to mass incarceration. Today, with the passage of the First Step Act, we are beginning the long-overdue process to correct these historical wrongs and ensure everyone is treated equally under the law.
“This bill provides retroactive relief under the Fair Sentencing Act, giving a path to freedom for thousands of people serving excessive sentences on crack cocaine charges. It draws upon aspects of the Second Chance Act, prioritizing funding for reentry programs that have been proven to reduce recidivism and lead to better outcomes for those released from prison. Additionally, the legislation will prohibit the solitary confinement of juveniles in federal facilities as called for in the Mercy Act.
“The First Step Act provides a foundation for Congress to enact greater reforms to improve our criminal justice system. Congress must build upon this legislation to push for restorative justice programs at both the federal and state levels in support of a fairer criminal justice system.”