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Upton Applauds Passage of Criminal Justice Reform

Bipartisan compromise now heads to the president’s desk

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Washington, December 20, 2018 | Tom Wilbur (202-225-3761) | comments

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, today joined his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives in voting to advance the First Step Act by a 358 to 36 vote. This bipartisan legislation was passed by the U.S. Senate earlier this week by an overwhelming 87 to 12 vote and now heads to the president’s desk for signature. Upton was a co-sponsor of the underlying legislation.

“This bipartisan bill marks the first significant improvements to the federal criminal justice system in decades,” said Upton. “As I’ve heard from local leaders like Berrien County Sherriff Paul Bailey, this effort will protect public safety while also helping inmates earn a second chance at life. We are taking a very positive step today by cutting recidivism, encouraging job training, education, mental health, and substance abuse treatments for those incarcerated, and making our criminal justice system fairer.”

“An effective criminal justice system is an essential part of a safe community. We must hold those who break the law accountable, but we also must pursue justice in a fair way and work to reduce recidivism,” added Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey. “I want to commend Congressman Upton for his efforts supporting this bipartisan bill.”

The First Step Act improves the federal prison system by allowing the Bureau of Prisons to better utilize effective recidivism programs to help offenders successfully re-enter society. It also improves fairness in prison sentences by recalibrating certain mandatory-minimum sentences, correcting disparities in drug sentencing, and granting greater discretion to judges in sentencing of low-level, non-violent drug offenders. All while preserving maximum potential sentences for violent and career criminals.

The First Step Act has been a priority of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, of which Upton is a member, and is supported by groups such as the National Fraternal Order of Police and hundreds of former and current federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

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