Time for businesses to take the second step for prison reform
The Hill by Jerry Goodstein
This past December, President Trump signed into law the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act — also known as the First Step Act. This legislation represents a powerful bipartisan commitment to federal criminal justice reform. Following the passage of the First Step Act, there has been significant praise for political leaders and calls for Congress to take this legislation further. Not only should we be looking to Congress to continue the progress made by this legislation, but most especially, we must look to the business sector to take the critical “second step” that can make the difference between success or failure of this act.
The First Step Act advances a number of initiatives within federal prisons to enhance people’s reentry into society after their release from prison. These initiatives include job training and counseling while incarcerated, the expansion of early-release programs for prisoners earning this privilege, and the release of prisoners closer to their home communities. The legislation also provides for reductions in mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and the re-evaluation of sentencing disparities associated with crack and powder cocaine offenses.
While these are all steps in the right direction, the people affected by the First Step Act must now prepare to reenter their communities — which is no easy task. They will need to rebuild relationships, find housing, and perhaps most importantly, find employment.
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