BROOKLYN, NY – This week, U.S. Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08), Don Bacon (R-NE-02), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Nancy Mace (R-SC-01) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18) introduced the bipartisan First Step Implementation Act of 2021 to advance the goals of the historic First Step Act.
In the 115th Congress, Rep. Jeffries worked across the aisle as the lead Democratic sponsor of the First Step Act, which helped position newly released individuals to successfully re-enter society as well as changed draconian sentencing laws connected to the failed war on drugs.
“The First Step Act was a victory for all Americans who believe in justice and the power of redemption. When the bill passed three years ago, we knew it was just the start of a bipartisan journey to eradicate the mass incarceration epidemic in America. We now carry its important legacy forward with the First Step Implementation Act of 2021. I thank Reps. Bacon, Nadler, Mace and Jackson Lee as well as Senators Durbin and Grassley for their leadership,” said Rep. Jeffries.
“For the last several years, Congress has worked hard to reform our criminal justice system and keep rehabilitated individuals out of jail once they are released. The First Step Implementation Act will help to implement previous criminal justice reform legislation that provides programs proven to reduce re-offenses, fight against drug abuse, and help transition successfully back into society. This bill builds on our progress by further reforming Federal criminal sentencing laws and I appreciate the opportunity to work with my colleagues on this important bill and issue,” said Rep. Bacon.
“I’m proud to cosponsor the bipartisan First Step Implementation Act. As we saw with the First Step Act, when we work together, we can accomplish real reform to our criminal justice system and improve lives. With this bill and more to come, I believe we can implement serious changes that will not only make our system more just, but also prevent crime and reduce recidivism,” said Rep. Nadler.
“When the First Step Act was signed into law in 2018, it was a major victory for those who’ve been working to fix the serious flaws in our justice system for over three decades. But, as the name implies, this was only the first step. There are a slew of outdated and ineffective sentencing laws which remain on the books, and they do nothing but waste taxpayer dollars, create new criminals, and make us all less safe. The First Step Implementation Act will bring fairness and common sense to these laws and push our justice system forward,” said Rep. Mace.
“The passage of the First Step Act of 2018 was an important advancement for criminal justice reform. I support the First Step Implementation Act, which improves on the work that myself and Rep. Jeffries have been doing as we also seek additional legislation to do more to address systemic and persistent inequities in all phases of our system, including unjust mandatory minimum sentences that fuel mass incarceration,” said Rep. Jackson Lee.
The First Step Implementation Act of 2021 would further the goals of the First Step Act by:
- Allowing courts to apply the First Step Act sentencing reform provisions to reduce sentences imposed prior to the enactment of the First Step Act;
- Broadening the safety valve provision to allow courts to sentence below a mandatory minimum for nonviolent controlled substance offenses, if the court finds the defendant’s criminal history over-represents the seriousness of the defendant’s criminal record and the likelihood of recidivism;
- Allowing courts to reduce sentences imposed on juvenile offenders who have served more than 20 years;
- Providing for the sealing or expungement of records of nonviolent juvenile offenses; and,
- Requiring the Attorney General to establish procedures ensuring that only accurate criminal records are shared for employment-related purposes.
The legislation is endorsed by the American Conservative Union, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, Coalition for Juvenile Justice, Dream Corps JUSTICE, Drug Policy Alliance, Due Process Institute, FAMM, Federal Public and Community Defenders, Human Rights for Kids, Justice Action Network, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition, Prison Fellowship, R Street Institute, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks.
The legislation was introduced in the Senate by the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).