Bipartisan Justice System Reform Legislation Makes Modest But Important Changes

December 17, 2018

For Immediate Release
Contact: Shin Inouye, 202.869.0398, [email protected]

WASHINGTON – Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the following statement in support of the bipartisan justice system reform package, the FIRST STEP Act:

“Bringing fairness and dignity to our justice system is one of the most important civil and human rights issues of our time. This bipartisan bill offers some modest improvements to the current federal system – such as revising mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offenses and fixing the ‘good time’ credit calculation. For this reason, we urge the Senate to vote yes on cloture and no on all amendments.

“We must acknowledge, however, that the bill falls short in providing the meaningful change that is required to truly reform the system. Several sentencing provisions don’t apply to individuals currently incarcerated, and the bill excludes too many people from earning time credits, allows private prison companies to profit, fails to include parole for juveniles, and expands the use of electronic monitoring. We will continue working to ensure the current bill does not further limit the number of people impacted.

“The FIRST STEP Act is not the end. We must address these concerns and create a system that is just and equitable, significantly reduces the number of people unnecessarily entering the system, eliminates racial disparities, and creates opportunities for second chances. Congress has much more work to do to achieve the transformational change that will end mass incarceration in America.”

The Leadership Conference and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a joint letter of support for the FIRST STEP Act. This letter can be found here. Both organizations will score these votes in their respective voting records for the 115th Congress.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit