Tester Votes to Reform Federal Criminal Justice System

Senator Backs Bipartisan Bill to Reduce Recidivism

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester voted Tuesday night with Republicans and Democrats to make the federal criminal justice system more fair, reduce recidivism, and fix broken sentencing laws. 

“This bipartisan bill takes important, commonsense steps forward to fix our criminal justice system and address overly-harsh sentencing laws. When signed into law, this bill will reward good behavior, end unduly harsh penalties for minors, expand judicial discretion by easing certain mandatory minimum sentences, and improve the health of female prisoners.”

The FIRST STEP Act passed the Senate 87-12.

The bill will:

  • Increase access to vocational and rehabilitative programming for federal inmates.
  • Revise the “good time credit” law to allow federal prisoners to earn additional credit off their sentences for good behavior.
  • Implement new “earned time credits” to incentivize participation in programming that would allow prisoners to receive early placement in halfway homes, home confinement, or supervised release.
  • Prohibit the shackling of pregnant prisoners and require health care products to be provided to incarcerated women.
  • Require that inmates be placed closer to their homes and provided additional phone, video, and visitation privileges.
  • End federal juvenile solitary confinement.
  • Expand judicial discretion in sentencing.
  • Reform two and three-strike laws.
  • Fix crack cocaine sentencing disparities.

The FIRST STEP Act now goes back to the House for consideration.