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.
Sen. Harris explained her support for the measure in a statement, saying it would “make our criminal justice system smarter.”
Americans deserve a criminal justice system that is both fair and smart. By passing the FIRST STEP Act, we can start to make our criminal justice system smarter.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 17, 2018
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.”
Thanks to Leader McConnell for agreeing to bring a Senate vote on Criminal Justice this week! These historic changes will make communities SAFER and SAVE tremendous taxpayers dollars. It brings much needed hope to many families during the Holiday Season.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018
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.
The Cotton-Kennedy Amdts to FSA exclude all violent felons & sex offenders from any early release credits. Current bill allows 1,466 sex offenders convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 2422 to qualify for time credits. Our amendment fixes this. cc: @SenJohnKennedy https://t.co/rkOVyanDwD pic.twitter.com/cXhBSq1Fg5— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) December 17, 2018