First Step Act Offers Hope for Families
December 20, 2018 (Boston & Washington, DC) – Many families served by Jumpstart live in historically underserved communities, which have been disproportionately affected by sentencing laws, particularly for non-violent offenses. The reforms established by the bipartisan FIRST STEP Act begin the necessary and arduous process of refocusing the criminal justice system towards one that prioritizes rehabilitation and family reunification and reduces recidivism. The legislation was approved by the Senate on Tuesday and in the House today, and will next go to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.
Among other reforms, the bill will allow federal judges greater flexibility in sentencing to ensure the penalty is reflective of both the severity of the crime, as well as any mitigating circumstances. Flexibility in sentencing, combined with a tiered early release program, also promotes the reunification of incarcerated parents with their children, leading to better outcomes for everyone involved — studies have consistently demonstrated the irreparable harm that family separation can have on early childhood development.
Naila Bolus, President & CEO of Jumpstart, explains, “this bill is the first step towards providing non-violent offenders a second chance at life, a second chance with their family, and is a step in the right direction to ensure every child in America is prepared for success in school and life.”