Attorney General Ken Paxton and a bipartisan group of 38 attorneys general today sent a letter to U.S. Congressional leaders to fully consider criminal justice reforms like those contained in the FIRST STEP Act.
The letter explains that states have enacted criminal justice reforms similar to those in the FIRST STEP Act to great success. Similar to many state reform efforts, the FIRST STEP Act would create programs that incentivize federal inmates to participate in recidivism-reducing programs including vocational training and academic courses. The bill also puts more tools in the hands of prosecutors, allowing them to seek the most appropriate sentence for an individual’s crimes.
“This legislation provides additional tools and flexibility to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, better equipping our correctional system to ensure that people coming back into our communities are prepared to do so as responsible citizens who do not pose a risk to our communities,” the Attorneys General wrote in the letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “We believe the FIRST STEP Act contains many helpful reforms and strongly encourage Congress to provide the bill with a full and open debate.”
The FIRST STEP Act enjoys broad support within law enforcement and the criminal justice policy community, and follows the lead Texas has set as a national leader in prison reform since 2007. Instead of spending billions on new prison beds, Texas closed eight prisons, saving more than $100 million annually, and invested in education programs, job training and apprenticeships. The reforms led to a gradual reversal in the prison system population, and the overall crime rate in Texas has fallen faster than the national average.
Attorney General Paxton co-leads the letter to Congressional leaders with the attorneys general from the District of Columbia, Florida, North Carolina and Utah. Also joining the letter are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.