Washington D.C., Aug 7, 2018 / 02:14 am
The largest global Christian prison ministry is applauding reports that U.S. President Donald Trump has signaled a willingness to include sentencing reform measures in a pending prison bill.
“We’re very pleased,” said Craig DeRoche, senior vice president for advocacy and public policy at the nonprofit ministry Prison Fellowship.
“There’s widespread consensus that these [sentencing reform proposals] are changes that bring the system more in line with what law enforcement even and the courts would consider proportionate punishment for what people have done,” he told CNA.
Last week, The Hill reported that Trump had voiced support during a meeting of Republican senators for a compromise proposal that would introduce several sentencing reform provisions into the First Step Act. The provisions include a reduction in mandatory-minimum prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) later told reporters, “There seems to be an interest on the part of the White House now to keeping the bills together.”
The First Step Act is a bipartisan bill that deals with prison operations and reentry policies. It would offer incentives for inmates to go through counseling, substance abuse programs, and vocational training before reentering society.
While the bill passed easily in the House of Representatives, it has faced opposition in the Senate, with some critics saying they will reject a bill that fails to include sentencing reform.
“The First Step Act as a standalone bill is a very important piece of legislation, because it provides important reforms for people who have already been sentenced,” DeRoche said. “We believe it will make communities safer and will set people up for success rather than failure when they complete their prison sentence.”