An unusual occurrence is taking place in Washington. With just days remaining in this current lame-duck session, Republicans and Democrats are coming together to push for a bipartisan solution to fixing a broken criminal justice system.
In what many are claiming to be a bold step in the right direction, leaders from both sides of the aisle are working together to reform mandatory minimums, reduce recidivism, and ultimately increase Americans’ faith in the criminal justice system.
The FIRST STEP Act seeks to address mandatory minimums that often drastically, and irrationally, outweigh the offending crime. It aims to provide exiting inmates with resources, rehabilitation programs, and community wrap-around services as they process life after prison.
And, it saves taxpayers millions of dollars as non-violent offenders are given sentences that reflect the type of crimes they committed, commensurate to the violation. There is a difference between violent criminals whom we fear and who must remain in prison, and non-violent offenders whom we are mad at for breaking our laws.
Across the country, many states have already enacted similar criminal justice reforms with positive outcomes. From Texas to Georgia, state reforms have led to lower crime and decreased incarceration rates. In fact, the state of Texas has actually closed prisons amidst such reforms and a decline the in overall crime rate over the years.
President Trump has publicly supported The FIRST STEP Act, and the effort has been a top priority for his son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner. This issue has also brought Democrats, libertarians, Republicans, and even celebrities together!
With so much momentum for much-needed reforms, Congress needs to take action now to vote on this bill. I am glad that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that the Senate will vote on the bill before this session of Congress is over.
It is rare that we get to pass bipartisan public policy solutions in Washington, but I am proud to say that criminal justice reform is one of those rare opportunities. It is smart policy, and is something that can and will bring the country together, regardless of political party or ideology.
Randan Steinhauser is the Founding Partner of Steinhauser Strategies, an Austin, Texas, based public relations firm.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.