Georgia Public Policy Foundation Commends Congress on FIRST STEP Act
Friday, December 21st, 2018
Bipartisan passage this week of the FIRST STEP Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, is a feather in the cap of outgoing Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, the Georgia General Assembly, and the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
“Congressman Collins was inspired to lead this effort among his colleagues for federal criminal justice reform legislation based on the huge successes in Georgia, where phased-in state reforms have saved lives, families, communities and money,” said Kyle Wingfield, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
“Governor Deal’s unwavering leadership in this state over his two terms has brought hope, alternatives and education opportunities to offenders who once left incarceration without any of the above.
“The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is proud to have been at the forefront of Georgia’s efforts, bringing both sides of the aisle to the table to talk about ‘smart-on-crime’ policies replacing ‘tough-on-crime’ measures,” Wingfield added.
“Our goal is to continue proposing commonsense solutions that keep Georgia’s communities safe, help former offenders return as productive citizens and prevent juveniles from taking those missteps that could ruin their lives and careers.”
The FIRST STEP Act – the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act – applies to the nation’s 181,000 federal prison inmates. Provisions include giving judges more sentencing leeway, reducing mandatory minimum drug sentences and limiting the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses.
It would also expand compassionate release for terminally ill prisoners, restrict how far from family federal inmates can be imprisoned, and provide "good time credits" that reduce sentences when inmates participate in educational and other re-entry programs intended to reduce recidivism. The legislation outlines about 60 offenses for which reduced sentences are prohibited.
“Much like the vaunted federal welfare reforms that trickled up from the states, this demonstrates how state-led policy efforts can turn the federal ‘tanker,’” Wingfield said.
“We look forward to continued reforms in criminal justice. And we look forward to health-care innovation in the states trickling up to the federal level, too, impacting even more Americans.”