Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, is thanking President Donald Trump for signing into law the FIRST STEP Act—federal criminal justice reform legislation—on Friday at the White House. The legislation passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support: 87-12 in the Senate, and 358-36 in the House.
“With the stroke of his pen, President Donald Trump took a bold step in making America safer by signing into law federal criminal justice reform—the FIRST STEP Act,” said James Ackerman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Prison Fellowship. “This legislation will increase the access of faith-based and nonprofit organizations, like Prison Fellowship, to provide desperately needed programming in the federal prison system and help reduce recidivism. From our work in many states across the country, we can say without hesitation that these programs restore lives—putting people on a new path and eventually reduce crime.”
“By signing this bill into law, the President and Members of Congress are showing we have learned from the past and are now choosing a more restorative path forward on criminal justice reform,” said Craig DeRoche, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy. “When people receive sentences that don’t fit their crime, America loses. Disproportional sentences are an affront to the dignity of people made in the image of God and erode faith in the notion of “equal justice under the law.”
The FIRST STEP Act improves programming in federal prisons. It better prepares men and women to become productive citizens through individualized risk assessments and by expanding access to recidivism-reducing programs for all federal prisoners. The sentencing reforms added to the legislation will make minor adjustments to correct disproportional sentencing enhancements and increase judicial discretion in certain federal drug offense cases.
Prison Fellowship is a leading advocate for criminal justice reform. Prison Fellowship was founded in 1976 by Chuck Colson, the former aide to President Richard Nixon who served time in a federal prison camp for a crime related to the Watergate scandal. Colson’s post-prison life proved that people who are now behind bars can and should be prepared for productive, meaningful futures. In more than 40 years of service, Prison Fellowship has learned what works—and what doesn’t—to transform lives and reduce crime.