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Washington, D.C. – Bread for the World today applauded passage of the bipartisan First Step Act criminal justice reform bill. However, the organization cautioned that the legislation must not be implemented in a way that has a disparate impact on communities of color.
“The First Step Act is an important first step towards criminal justice reform,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “The strong bipartisan support of this legislation is witness that both sides of the aisle can unite on solutions that make a real difference in the lives of Americans.”
Nearly one in four households headed by returning citizens live in deep poverty and ninety-one percent of returning citizens report being food insecure.
The First Step Act reduces mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and gives judges more flexibility in sentencing. The legislation provides for education, training, and treatment programs that will reduce recidivism and help people successfully reenter society.
Bread plans to work with lawmakers and the independent review committee to monitor the design and implementation of the risk assessment tool to ensure it takes into account existing racial and gender disparities in the criminal justice system.
“The criminal justice system has many problems, and this bill does not solve all of them. However, the First Step Act is an important step forward, and we hope it is just one of many to come,” said Beckmann.
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