US Senate passes bipartisan criminal justice bill
20 December 2018
On Wednesday, the United States Senate voted 87-12 in favor of watered-down legislation that will roll back a few of the most draconian provisions of the federal criminal justice system.
The “First Step Act,” short for the “Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act,” goes back to the House of Representatives, which passed a slightly stronger version last May by a vote of 360 to 59.
For his own opportunistic reasons, President Donald Trump pushed Senate Republicans to support the legislation, tweeting after the vote, “America is the greatest Country in the world and my job is to fight for ALL citizens, even those who have made mistakes.”
When it comes to locking people up, the United States does indeed stand on top of the heap. By large margins, there are more people in state and federal penitentiaries, 2.3 million, and a larger percentage of its population incarcerated than any other nation. The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is the largest single prison system, incarcerating some 180,000 inmates, almost 25 percent beyond its designated capacity.
Mass incarceration is not just barbaric and cruel. It adds billions in expenses to government budgets and deprives capitalists of a significant pool of potential workers to keep downward pressure on wages. Efforts to reform the federal system, which can encourage similar reforms on the state level, have been building for years.
In a second tweet, Trump added, “In addition to everything else, billions of dollars will be saved. I look forward to signing this into law!”
Federal courts, which handle crimes such as drug trafficking, bank robbery and a variety of so-called white-collar…