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Rep. Meeks Issues Statement on the First Step Act

December 20, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Gregory W. Meeks issued the following statement regarding the passage of the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that would reduce mandatory minimums of “war on drugs” era policies, increase “good time credits” that inmates could earn, allow inmates to receive “earned time credits” for participating in rehabilitative programs, allow prisoners to be incarcerated closer to home, among other changes.

“There is no doubt that the war on drugs and the policies that disproportionately targeted minorities have greatly contributed towards making America the incarceration capital of the world. As a former prosecutor, I know that there is a great deal of people behind bars who’ve been subjected to extreme minimum sentences, who aren’t violent, and who could contribute to their community if given the chance. The time is long over-due to effect meaningful change in our justice system, to right some of the wrongs, and focus on reducing recidivism and the scale of the prison-industrial complex in our nation.

“The First Step Act is just that, a first step, and I was proud to be a co-sponsor of the original House version of this bill. By reducing some mandatory minimums and making some reforms retroactive, and by increasing the amount of earned time credits while allowing prisoners to earn credits through rehabilitation, the First Step Act will allow thousands of prisoners who’ve done their time a chance to re-enter life outside bars, many on the very day this law goes into effect.

“This historic bill shows that bipartisanship is still possible in the often partisan halls of Congress. Great credit is owed to the restless work of advocates and this legislation's leaders in both the Senate and House, like Senators Cory Booker and Mike Lee and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. I look forward to working after this bill’s passage on additional common sense reforms to reduce prison overcrowding and make our justice system more just.”