WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Tuesday applauded the passage of the FIRST STEP Act, a bipartisan criminal justice bill aimed at reforming federal prisons and sentencing laws. This is the first time in years that Congress has passed meaningful criminal justice reform legislation. 

“Everyone knows our country’s criminal justice system is broken. This bill is a good step toward correcting it by reducing some of the lengthy sentences given to nonviolent offenders as part of misguided ‘War on Drugs’ policies. The bipartisan work that went into this bill shows that Congress can still be a place where Republicans and Democrats come together to solve problems,” said Murphy. 

The FIRST STEP Act includes policies to tackle mass incarceration and reduce sentencing, including:

  • Retroactively applying the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the disparity in punishment between crack cocaine and the powered substance, to those sentenced for drug offenses before 2010
  • Gives judges the ability to ease mandatory minimum sentence by enhancing the “safety valve” for nonviolent drug offenders
  • Prohibits the shackling of pregnant women and requires health care products be provided to incarcerated women
  • Creates a new earned time credit, which allows eligible prisoners to earn credit towards early placement in a halfway house, home confinement, or limited supervised release by participating in recidivism-reduction programs or productive activities. 

Murphy has been a supporter of reforming our criminal justice system. This year, the At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act Murphy introduced with U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), legislation to ensure that children who spend time in the juvenile justice system continue to receive much-needed health care coverage and treatments immediately after their release from custody, was signed into law. Murphy is also a co-sponsor of the Beyond the Box for Higher Education Act, legislation that would encourage colleges and universities to remove criminal and juvenile justice questions from their admissions applications and give more Americans a chance to earn a higher education.