Congressmen Cárdenas on the passage of the historic First Step Act
I am proud to announce the passage of The First Step Act, one of my top priorities this Congress and the most meaningful overhaul of the criminal justice system in decades.
This law will change lives immediately upon its passage. It will make our communities safer and it will drastically reduce tax-payer dollars being wasted on inappropriate sentencing. It pulls back severe sentencing laws that up until now have sent many Americans to jail for the rest of their life for minor drug offenses. This law is the first legislation to roll back some of the restrictions that disproportionally jailed men and women of color and created a system where minorities fill our prisons while white collar criminals go free. This law works to end the cruel practice of solitary confinement for juveniles, and includes provisions from the Protecting Youth from Solitary Confinement Act, a bill which I have introduced for the last three sessions of Congress. It is long past time we signed these protections into law.
Now this law isn’t perfect, but it’s title is. This is a first step, and we have an obligation to finish the job for the thousands of men and women who have paid their debt to society, yet remain in prison. There is more work to do if we are going to create a justice system that prioritizes safety, prevention, and redemption.
I have fought for justice reform for more than 20 years, and I am ready to fight for 20 more. I would like to thank my colleagues in Congress for taking this first step with me. Now let’s finish the job.