WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new bill cosponsored by Senator Angus King and Senator Susan Collins is focused on criminal justice reform. The legislation has strong bipartisan support in congress and is backed by President Trump.
With support from both sides of the aisle, the First Step Act hopes to reduce crime by keeping low-risk inmates out of prison once released.
“What it does is create more incentives to reduce recidivism,” said Senator King. “One of the great problems is that people get out of prison, they get back into trouble, they get back in.”
Senator King is just one of 24 bipartisan lawmakers cosponsoring the bill, which also aims to adjust mandatory minimum sentences and give judges greater discretion for low-level, nonviolent drug crimes.
“It’s about 75 or 80 thousand dollars a year per inmate that it’s costing the taxpayers, so if we have people in prison for longer than they need to be in terms of paying their debt to society, that doesn’t do anybody any good,” said Senator King.
Senator Susan Collins is another advocate for the bill.
“The First Step Act would be the most sweeping reforms in our criminal justice system in decades and they are long overdue,” she said.
These reforms only affect federal prisons, but Senator King feels it’s something that state’s like Maine could incorporate in the future.
“The president is supporting it, both sides of the aisle in the senate and there hasn’t been a version of this bill in the house, so I’m hoping that something on this can be done by the end of the year,” said Senator King.