Senate Passes Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

Press Release December 19, 2018
Media Contact

Contact:
Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
[email protected]

Last night, the Senate advanced the First Step Act, a bill to reform the federal prison system and reduce sentences for certain drug offenses. The bill now goes to the House, where it is expected to pass easily, and will then be signed by President Trump.
 
“This is a bittersweet moment,” said Michael Collins, director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance. “The bill represents progress and we should celebrate the release of thousands of people serving disproportionately long sentences, but at the same time the bill leaves far too many people behind. It’s a tough compromise for us and we must keep fighting for much deeper systemic changes.”
 
The bill contains prison reform language as well as provisions that would reduce sentences for certain drug offenses, including:
 

“I know the horror of spending a dozen years behind bars for a low-level drug offense,” said Anthony Papa, manager of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance, who was sentenced to 15-years-to-life under New York’s draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws. “This reform will be life-changing for the thousands of people who are able to come home, but we also must keep fighting for the hundreds of thousands who are left behind.”

 

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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