Dream Corps

In Major Criminal Justice Reform Win, Bipartisan Senate Subcommittee Proposes Full Funding for First Step Act & Robust Investments in Second Chance Programs

Funding Agreement Reaffirms True Bipartisan Nature of First Step Act, Which Has Brought Together White House & Both Parties in Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. [09/24/19]—Today, the leadership team at #cut50 announced that a key GOP-led Senate panel has come together in a bipartisan way to propose a full $75 million in funding for the implementation of the First Step Act, criminal justice reform legislation championed and led by #cut50 and signed into law by President Trump last year.

The First Step Act has already reunited thousands of formerly incarcerated people with their families, with one estimate showing that a single provision of the bill has so far given more than 115,000 years of freedom back to people who were incarcerated.

Also today, the lawmakers agreed to fund an additional $90 million in Second Chance Act grants, which will support organizations serving people coming home from prisons and jails through job training, education, housing, and more. This includes organizations in #cut50’s Empathy Network like Project Reentry, a Second Chance Act grantee that provides critical services for people in Nashville, TN.

The #cut50 team of criminal justice advocates and experts—including many who are formerly incarcerated individuals themselves—are available as soon possible to discuss this bipartisan win for reform. For your reporting, you can refer to and use the following quotes:

“As someone who was once incarcerated and then given hope through a change in the law, I know this is about so much more than just politics,” said Michael Mendoza, national director for #cut50. “The First Step Act was a monumental bipartisan effort to transform the federal prison system while also giving hope and new opportunity to the 180,000+ people who are incarcerated there. The same momentum that carried that bill to President Trump’s desk also provided for the reauthorization of the Second Chance Act, which will distribute $90 million in critical resources to direct-service organizations all across the country who do the hard work every day of helping people reestablish their lives after incarceration.”

“The First Step Act, one of the most notable bipartisan accomplishments of the past decade, ushered in a more just and empathetic era for the U.S. criminal justice system,” said Jessica Jackson, former national director and current senior advisor for #cut50. “With today’s congressional funding agreement to support First Step Act implementation with a robust $75 million and an additional $90 million for Second Chance Act programs, we are seeing yet more proof that both Republicans and Democrats see criminal justice reform as a necessary and enduring joint priority for our federal government. As advocates, we are proud to have worked to pass the First Step Act and are proud to continue working to ensure it is fully funded and implemented. Today’s agreement demonstrates the enduring bipartisan support for smart policies like the First Step Act and Second Chance Act, which will reduce both crime and incarceration.”

About the First Step Act:

The First Step Act aims to create a fairer justice system for all and enact programs to reduce recidivism and make our communities safer. In addition to the good time credit provision, the First Step Act retroactively applies the Fair Sentencing Act, restricts the use of restraints on pregnant women, expands compassionate release for terminally ill patients, places prisoners closer to family, mandates de-escalation training for correctional officers and employees, improves feminine hygiene in prison, among many other provisions.

To view the First Step to Second Chances Guide and other online resources for formerly incarcerated individuals, please visit www.firststepact.org. 

About #cut50: 

#cut50,­ a program of Dream Corps­, is a national bipartisan effort to reduce the number of people in our prisons and jails while making our communities safer. Our campaigns are led by people who have been directly impacted by the justice system and want to create change.