Landmark criminal justice reform bill clears Senate

Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner who has made overhauling the criminal justice system one of his top projects in the White House attended the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the Capitol last month

US Senate Passes Criminal Justice Reform

The House of Representatives followed the Senate Thursday and voted overwhelmingly to pass the President's touted 'Criminal Reform Bill, ' sending the legislation to Trump's desk to be signed into law.

The US Senate will vote on an emergency short-term spending bill introduced by Republicans Wednesday that averts a government shutdown, but does not include funding that President Donald Trump sought for a US-Mexico border wall.

Senators voted 87-12 for the First Step Act, which is created to promote the rehabilitation and societal reentry of prisoners while maintaining public safety. His thinking was heavily influenced by his son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, who has long advocated sentencing restructuring and marshaled endorsements of the bill from a diverse coalition including law enforcement, and the American Civil Liberties Union. "Given the complexities Alaska is facing with criminal justice reform, collectively known as SB91 in Alaska, along with skyrocketing crime rates and an evolving opioid and drug crisis, I can not ignore the harsh realities Alaskans are facing by voting to reduce prison time for offenders who are compounding this crisis".

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It's one of the biggest changes to our criminal justice system in a generation.

The First Step Act has gained support not only from liberals and many conservatives in the Senate, but from both the left and right outside Congress.

Passing the Senate, it had picked up the support of hardened anti-Trump Democrats, including Sen. He said the nation's criminal justice system "feeds on certain communities and not on others", and he said the bill represents a step toward "healing" for those communities.

-Gives judges more discretion when sentencing nonviolent drug offenders.

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It also retroactively changes guidelines that differentiate between powder and crack cocaine - a change which could affect up to 2,600 prisoners according to the Marshall Project.

Trump endorsed the bill after the midterm elections in November, giving Republicans cover to support it and putting pressure on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to bring it to the Senate floor. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who at 41 is one of the youngsters in the Senate, made a decision to vote against it despite the Senate accepting his amendments, which included restrictions on who was eligible for earned time credits.

The Senate has passed a sweeping criminal justice overhaul.

"We look forward to President Trump signing this bill into law, and we must now continue moving the needle on justice reform even further towards fairness", Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs for FreedomWorks, a grassroots conservative advocacy group, said in a statement. The credits are deducted from a sentence to allow for early release. Prisoners are also ineligible to apply time credits if subject to a final order of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act. In case you missed the drama over the last few days, a handful of Republican senators bucked the popular D.C. consensus on the bill and voiced their concerns about the language. I'm not sure given the Amendments that are out there that they could ever get to the point where I'm 100% confident.

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