STATEMENT BY CONGRESSMAN WM. LACY CLAY (D) MISSOURI REGARDING PASSAGE OF THE “FIRST STEP ACT OF 2018”
NOTE: The following, in its entirety, is a first-person statement by Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) Missouri.
“Today’s historic vote is a long-overdue down payment on fixing America’s broken criminal justice system. The “First Step Act of 2018,” which I was proud to cosponsor, strikes a blow against racially-biased sentencing inequality, especially for the thousands of Black and Latino federal inmates who were victimized by outrageous sentencing disparities between convictions for possession and distribution of crack and powder cocaine.
Our bill also begins the process of curbing America’s over-incarceration epidemic by easing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent federal crimes. And it will provide many federal inmates the opportunity to earn a second chance by using training and good behavior to shorten their incarceration. The “First Step Act” also reduces the three-strike penalty to 25 years from life in prison.
America has a mass incarceration problem. If we want a safer country and a fairer criminal justice system, we need to prioritize diversion, rehabilitation and education while making second chances possible for more inmates.
The massive bipartisan support for the “First Step Act” in both the House and the Senate shows that Congress still has the capacity to act together for the good of the American people. We have much more work to do, but this historic bill is a significant “First Step” towards equal justice for all, instead of just for some.”