Dream Corps

Our Programs: First Step Act Impact

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Dream Corps

Our Programs: First Step Act Impact

Over the past few years, Dream Corps JUSTICE (operating before 2021 as “#cut50”) has been responsible for major successes at the state and federal level.

We are proud of the historic work our directly impacted leaders and organizers led on the FIRST STEP Act, bipartisan federal criminal justice legislation signed in 2018.





So Far in 2021

  • 25,000+ defendant sentences reduced 16,000+ people released early from federal prison through the First Step Act
  • 115,000+ years of human freedom restored to people & communities
  • 31,700 Bureau of Prisons employees trained in mental health awareness & treatment
  • A wave of reforms inspired by the First Step Act introduced & passed in state legislatures across the country, many championed by conservative lawmakers.
  • Worked with Congress to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to people formerly incarcerated in 2020-2021. 
  • Secured and expanded funding for anti-recidivism programs [across all 50 states/across the country]
  • Collaborated on federal funding for courts to reduce/waive fines and fees for people facing trial
  • Supported and led 12 Dignity for Incarcerated Women bills to end the inhumane practice of shackling expecting mothers
  • Mobilized advocates and justice impacted community members to highlight the impact of COVID19 in prisons during our COVID19 dispatch series. 
  • Activated a 3,000 member Empathy Network to fight for reform.

Just hours before his family member recorded this video, Lonnie Jones was sitting inside a prison cell, sentenced to serve the rest of his life behind bars. But a piece of legislation we fought for changed that: The First Step Act. Because leaders in Congress passed this bill and the President signed it into law, Lonnie became one of 7,000 people to walk out of federal prison early this year, many with decades shaved off their prison sentence. 
Now multiply that by the total number of sisters, brothers, daughters, fathers, mothers, partners, cousins, and grandparents who were emotionally incarcerated alongside them. That’s a lot of freedom. 

In fact, the First Step Act has restored 115,000 years of human freedom so far. 

How it Happened

After decades of debate, Congress was finally able to pass critical legislation that prioritized rehabilitation in our federal prisons and fairness in federal courtrooms.

We worked with a bipartisan coalition of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers to craft, strengthen, and pass the First Step Act. The historic bill received support from both sides of the aisle.

House and Senate Votes on the First Step Act.

Next Steps:

We are working to ensure that the First Step Act is fully funded and implemented. That those coming home have the resources they need to succeed as well as are given a voice in the urgent fight to transform our justice system.

JUSTICE helped form a coalition of unlikely allies, made up of directly impacted people, Members of Congress, business leaders, faith leaders, and advocates.

The passage of the First Step Act presents an incredible opportunity to spotlight the national impact of criminal justice legislation and accelerate momentum for reform within both political parties at the state level. 

Since its passage, a number of other bills have been introduced in states across the country modeled on the sentencing and prison reform policies passed by both parties in Congress and signed into law by President Trump. 

JUSTICE Dignity Ambassador, Pamela Winn and Jessica Jackson discuss the urgency of justice reform.

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