The House passed a bipartisan bill Tuesday that would help give prison inmates a second chance at life.
The FIRST STEP Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins, R-GA, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY, will provide educational training to inmates so they can successfully reenter society once released, and reduce recidivism.
The bill would also help inmates earn their GED, and receive treatment for substance abuse and mental health problems.
“These are individuals who are in the system right now without hope, without opportunity, without a meaningful chance at transforming themselves,” Jeffries told lawmakers on the House floor. “And the First Step Act will provide that. … Why would we possibly refuse that?”
The bill has the backing of both Christian groups and the White House.
“The research is conclusive, correctional education programs and vocational training work to reduce recidivism,” said Tim Head, Executive Director of Faith and Freedom Coalition.
“We implore Congress to enact the FIRST STEP Act as soon as possible so that we can make the public safer, save taxpayer dollars, strengthen families, and change lives for the better,” Head continued.
The legislation is a priority for the White House, thanks to Jared Kushner, who worked directly with the bill’s authors and hosted a prison reform summit at the White House last week with President Trump.
“America is a nation that believes in the power of redemption,” Trump said Friday. “America is a nation that believes in second chances, and third chances, in some cases. And, I don’t know, I guess even fourth chances.”
Now, the bill is in the hands of the Senate where its fate is unknown. Some Senate Democrats and Republicans have signaled they will support the bill, while others may oppose it unless sentencing reforms are added to it.