An important bipartisan federal criminal justice reform legislation, called the First Step Act (S.3649) currently awaits a vote in the U.S. Senate (a similar version passed in the House earlier this year).
It is critical you urge your Senators NOW to support the First Step Act.
While Catholic Mobilizing Network rarely focuses on national level reform, this bill deserves our collective attention. Widely-supported by Republicans and Democrats, the First Step Act is a modest step toward a broader overhaul of the US criminal justice system. These proposed measures will help honor the God-given dignity of our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated.
Below are just a few reforms this legislation would enact if passed:
- Expand judicial discretion in determining who qualifies for certain mandatory minimum sentences;
- Retroactively apply the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the 100-1 sentencing disparity between crack vs. powder cocaine offenses;
- Provide de-escalation training to correctional officers;
- Require that inmates be held in a facility no more than 500 miles from their residency;
- Mandate that pregnant women not be restrained while in custody.
- Provide additional funding for rehabilitative programming prisons.
Click on the links below for more information on these common-sense criminal justice reforms:
- Senate Judiciary Committee Summary of S. 3649
- Letter of support from the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology to U.S. Senators
- Letter of support from the USCCB, Saint Vincent De Paul Society, and Catholic Charities to U.S. Senators
- The Marshall Project: "What's Really in the First Step Act?"
*Thank you to our partners at the Ignatian Solidarity Network for language and talking points concerning the First Step Act.
**In addition to contacting your two Senators, below is an opportunity to contact Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has authority on the scheduling of this critical vote.