WASHINGTON – Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) has joined fellow Iowa senator, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) as a cosponsor of the revised First Step Act, which will reduce recidivism, promote public safety and improve fairness in sentencing of federal crimes.

“We need to address the disturbingly high rate of women - especially mothers - in prison and ensure our criminal justice system is addressing their unique needs. The sentencing reforms being championed by Sens. Grassley and Durbin are a way for Republicans and Democrats to work together to reform federal prisons and sentencing in a way that supports families and keeps our communities safe, while also solving the growing challenges states like Iowa face in meeting workforce demands,” said Senator Ernst.

Background:

The revised First Step Act includes the House-passed, bipartisan legislation on prison and sentencing reform, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.  The comprehensive legislation is focused on reducing crime by helping low-risk inmates prepare to rejoin society by participating in recidivism reduction and professional development programs.  The First Step Act also aims to improve fairness by: recalibrating certain mandatory minimum sentences; providing greater discretion for judges in sentencing of low-level, nonviolent drug crimes; and, clarifying congressional intent on sentencing enhancements for certain crimes involving firearms.  Under this legislation, any savings generated by the reforms would automatically be reinvested into law enforcement programs to further reduce crime and improve community safety.

The First Step Act was endorsed by President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to hold a vote on the compromise proposal if it has 60 votes in the Senate.  It is also supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Cut50, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, National District Attorneys Association and International Association of Chiefs of Police.

More details are available in the fact sheet and section-by-section summary provided by the Senate Judiciary Committee.