The legislation reduces the enhanced penalties for certain non-violent repeat drug offenders and eliminates the three-strike mandatory life provision. Under most circumstances, it would ban restraints on pregnant prisoners, and seeks to keep prisoners closer to their families.
The First Step Act passed in the House in May by 360 to 59.
“Today I am thrilled to announce my support for this bipartisan bill that will make our community safer and give former inmates a second chance at life after they have served their time,” Trump said.
He thanked Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and a senior White House adviser who worked on getting the First Step Act passed in the House.
“There was really a lot of bipartisan support for this issue in the sense that a lot of the conservative states have been leaders on this issue, saying that the prisons have become too full, we’re spending too much money on warehousing people, [and] we should be figuring out how to improve people,” Kushner said on CNN’s Van Jones.
A number of conservative and faith-based groups have also endorsed the legislation.
The bill has been held up in the Senate by Democratic and some Republican senators who want to see it overhaul mandatory minimum sentencing laws. In a letter to colleagues, several Senate Democrats wrote that it would “exacerbate racial and socioeconomic disparities” and “likely not reduce recidivism.”
Trump urged lawmakers in both the House and Senate to “seek common ground,” and “work hard and quickly” and send him a final bill.
“I look very much forward to signing it. … I’m waiting with a pen.”