Georgia Senators Vote Yes On Prison Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators David Perdue and Johnny Isakson both  vote for what Perdue calls ‘the improved’ version of the First Step Act.  Perdue worked with the Trump Administration and bill sponsors to secure several major improvements to the final text.

“The improved First Step Act will make our federal criminal justice system fairer to all Americans, while maintaining severe deterrents to criminal behavior. After working closely with the Trump Administration to make several improvements to the bill, I am proud to cosponsor the First Step Act. President Trump and Chairman Grassley have led this good faith effort to bring equity and reason to our justice system, along with Congressman Doug Collins who championed this in the U.S. House of Representatives. For years, Georgia has been leading the nation in reducing recidivism, providing drug rehabilitation, and increasing job training opportunities in our state prison system. This bipartisan effort is a model for breaking through the gridlock in Washington and actually getting things done,” says Perdue.

Isakson states, “In Georgia, we’ve already seen positive results from our criminal justice reform efforts led by Governor Nathan Deal, and I’m glad to see this push at the federal level, because we know it can work. Representative Doug Collins deserves real credit for this bipartisan effort, which has earned widespread support in Congress, from our state and law enforcement officials, our churches and faith communities. These reforms can help change lives and help ensure a better long-term outcome by focusing on rehabilitation of low-level, non-violent offenders so that they can become productive members of our society. I’m pleased to see this legislation advance.”

Highlights of the bill per the Isakson team:

To rehabilitate prisoners and help prevent future offences, the First Step Act allows prisoners to earn time credits for pre-release custody through participation in vocational training, educational coursework, or faith-based programs that will help them successfully reenter society.

The First Step Act targets a specific population of federal prisoners who will eventually be released. It ensures that violent and high-risk criminals convicted of certain serious offenses are ineligible for sentencing reduction and other portions of the programing, including those who are convicted of crimes related to terrorism, murder, sexual exploitation of children, espionage, violent firearms offences, or those who are organizers, leaders, managers or supervisors in the fentanyl and heroin drug trade, along with those who are subject to a final order of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The bill would also makes a number of improvements to prison conditions, such as prohibiting the use of restraints on pregnant inmates, requiring that inmates be housed within 500 miles of their home, and extending compassionate elderly early release provisions.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.-09, introduced an earlier version of the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act, or FIRST STEP Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives, where it passed on May 22, 2018. Collins has been selected as the lead Republican on the House Judiciary Committee for the next session of Congress beginning in January 2019.

The First Step Act has been endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police and other law enforcement officials and organizations, the National Governor’s Association, and a broad coalition of conservative, progressive and faith groups. President Trump has also indicated that he supports the measure.