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Tipsheet

Sen. Kamala Harris Explains Her Support for Trump-Backed Criminal Justice Reform Bill

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced her support Monday for the bipartisan FIRST STEP Act which is endorsed by President Trump. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced last week that the criminal justice reform measure would be brought to a vote before the end of the year. The Senate will begin voting on the bill Monday evening.

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Sen. Harris explained her support for the measure in a statement, saying it would “make our criminal justice system smarter.”

She did emphasize that the FIRST STEP Act “is very much just that – a First Step. It is a compromise of a compromise, and we ultimately need to make far greater reforms if we are to right the wrongs that exist in our criminal justice system.”

“All of the Act’s sentencing reforms should be applied retroactively, and the Act should further expand application of earned good time credits,” she argued, “place more prohibitions on private prisons which profit from the incarceration of individuals, and further limit the use of electronic monitoring.”

“For too long, sentencing in our country has been overly severe and has disproportionately targeted communities of color – especially black men,” she wrote. “Reforming some of the most draconian federal sentencing laws, including unfair mandatory minimum sentences under two- and three-strikes laws, will make our system more just. “

President Trump tweeted Tuesday that the legislation will “make communities SAFER and SAVE tremendous taxpayers dollars.”

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Within the GOP, the bill has earned support including from Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). However, it is still the subject of debate as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has some serious concerns about the bill. He is promoting an amendment that he believes will fix its problems.

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