WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded the Senate passage of the First Step Act, which includes provisions from Brown’s 2008 Second Chance Act. Brown’s bill expands federal grant programs that provide substance abuse treatment, housing, and employment assistance services for formerly incarcerated individuals to help them successfully re-enter their communities. Many of these programs have already been successful in Ohio, reducing recidivism and costs for state and local governments.
The First Step Act will also make modest sentencing and prison reforms to the U.S. Criminal Justice System, including corrections to ensure no person is sitting in prison serving more time than what they would get for the same offense today, while also allowing judges some discretion to issue sentences below the mandatory minimums for qualified low-level, non-violent drug offenders. The bill is expected to pass the House, then head to the President’s desk for final signature. Additionally, the First Step Act makes critical investments to improve prison conditions, including providing feminine healthcare products.
“This bill is a good first step, but just a first step,” said Brown. “There is still more work to be done to fix the inequities in our justice system. Our criminal justice system should be tough, but fair. And it should work to help prepare people to reintegrate back into society.”
Enacted in 2008, the Second Chance Act has provided funding for programs that have proven to reduce recidivism, help former inmates reintegrate successfully into society, and save prison costs for states. In 2011, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Brown fought to reinstate funding for the Second Chance Act after it had been eliminated earlier in the federal appropriations process. Brown successfully negotiated with members of the Conference Committee, which resulted in a final funding level of $63 million for Second Chance programs.