Speed Reads

criminal justice reform

Trump signs the bipartisan First Step Act

President Trump on Friday signed the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill which received support from a wide range of lawmakers and advocacy organizations.

Though criticized by some on the left as too cautious and by opponents on the right as too lenient, the First Step Act was championed in the White House by Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. It passed the Senate Tuesday, 87-12, and the House approved the Senate's version of the bill Thursday with a 358-36 vote.

"The First Step Act is by no means perfect," said the ACLU's Jesselyn McCurdy. "But we are in the midst of a mass incarceration crisis, and the time to act is now."

The law's main concern is sentencing reform, giving judges greater discretion in sentencing for some future convictions. It also makes retroactive a prior sentencing reform law and slightly expands the circumstances under which inmates can earn earlier transfer to pre-release custody. First Step only applies to the federal prison system, which means about nine in 10 of America's 2.1 million inmates won't be affected.