Justice reform takes its first steps with the First Step Act
Last year President Trump signed the first piece of prison reform legislation in years. The First Step Act is aimed in part at reducing the federal prison population. It garnered overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate. Since becoming law, this bill has been quietly applauded by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
The First Step Act addresses some cornerstone issues plaguing the justice system. It modified some mandatory minimum laws for better, more proportional sentencing. The act also expanded on incentive-based rehabilitation programming for eligible inmates. Some proponents of the new law hope that the changes made by the First Step Act will act as a catalyst for further justice reforms across the nation.
Leading the charge for justice reform
One advocate for such reform is Mark Holden, general counsel for Koch Industries. Holden believes that there must be more action taken to change reform the flawed justice system.
Holden argues that Congress should apply some of the First Step Act’s changes retroactively. He believes that nonviolent offenders should take part in through treatment and other programs while prison beds should be reserved for truly dangerous offenders. He also mentions that justice reform must require prosecutors to share all information related to a crime with the accused.
In conjunction, certain criminal intent standards must be clarified to prevent unnecessary backlog in the court systems. This will also help to address and reign in America’s convoluted federal criminal regulatory code.
Going beyond the end of a sentence
But Holden also feels that these justice reforms need to go beyond sentencing. He feels that non-inclusive hiring practices need to be addressed, and soon. It is all too often that someone leaving prison has little to no opportunities to rebuild their careers. Holden feels that businesses should hire qualified candidates regardless of their criminal record.
He feels that people should have the opportunity to resume life after they depart prison. The private sector, civic organizations, and communities should ensure that criminal justice-involved individuals have housing, as well as access to the resources they need to become valued members of a community
As for those individuals who are still in custody, they should be provided with training that will help them reenter society. Holden feels there should be programs in place to help inmates deal with potential problems they may encounter in society.
Holden believes that there is a moral imperative to continue pushing for justice reforms to help find and unleash the potential in everyone.
America can, and should, build on the foundation provided by the First Step Act. For an analysis of how the First Step Act may impact your case or the case of someone you know, contact the Law Offices of Brandon Sample. Our experienced attorneys have in-depth knowledge of the new law.
Src: Mark Holden, ‘The First Step Act: It’s Only a ‘First Step,‘ ‘The Crime Report, Feb. 18, 2019.
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