Durbin, Booker, Harris, Lewis, Jackson Lee Statement On House Vote On "Prison Reform"

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kamala Harris (D-CA), and U.S. Representatives John Lewis (D-GA) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) released the following statement on the FIRST STEP Act, a so-called prison reform bill that will be voted on in the House of Representatives later today:

“Make no mistake: the FIRST STEP Act is not meaningful criminal justice reform, and would be a step backward from our shared goal of ending America’s mass incarceration crisis. The bill faces bipartisan opposition in Congress and from the civil rights community and law enforcement leaders like former Attorney General Eric Holder and more than 30,000 federal prison guards because it is fundamentally flawed, and does not include sentencing reform. More than 70 civil rights groups agree that the bill would exclude too many incarcerated people, use risk assessments in an untested manner that would exacerbate racial and socioeconomic disparities, not provide real time off of sentences, and likely not reduce recidivism.

"These fundamental concerns are not simply that the FIRST STEP Act does not ‘go far enough,’ but instead that the recidivism reduction plan that is the core of the bill could actually worsen the situation in our federal prisons by creating discriminatory non-evidence-based policies. We urge our colleagues in the House to reject this bill and join us in pushing for the bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.”

Last week, the lawmakers sent a Dear Colleague letter to Democrats in the House and Senate that detailed opposition to the so-called prison reform bill.