House Overwhelmingly Passes Bipartisan Prison Reform Bill

Authored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the First Step Act would authorize $250 million over five years to develop and expand programs that reduce recidivism and give incentives for good behavior.

The bill would also boost current inmates’ chances for a GED, vocational and college courses as well as substance abuse and mental health help, Jeffries told lawmakers on the House floor

The legislation allows inmates to earn up to 54 days of “good time” credit per year instead of the current 47 days. It also offers incentives to get inmates to participate in new programs, including increased phone and visitation periods and transfer to an institution closer to a prisoner’s home.

Federal inmates could serve the end of their sentences in halfway houses, under the bill. The legislation also ensures inmates are locked up closer to their families and pregnant women wouldn’t be shackled.