The First Step Act: Righting The Wrongs
By: Sammy Quarrato
Negative news by the mainstream media is the focus of politics, especially in the Trump Era where it is wall-to-wall coverage of how bad America is and how we may never come back from the depths of political hell.
Yet, the mainstream media has ignored a bill that was passed by Congress months ago which states that it would release 53,000 prisoners in the next 10 years, specifically those who are in prison for low level, non-violent drugs offenses.
This has been something that Democrats especially have been focusing as one of the main issues of the prison system in this country, which puts people behind bars for unreasonably lengthy amounts of time.
The Trump Administration has also made it a goal to bring change into the broken system and the prison reform bill was an opportunity for both sides to do something that is beneficial to the little guys, the ones that needs help because they cannot help themselves.
The bill was passed with ease in both the House and Senate, with Democrats having a small yet noticeably larger majority of members who voted aye.
This prison reform bill is just the first step of a long and difficult road ahead for the US Government to right its wrong from the war on drugs that hasn’t been fixed nor mitigated by many presidents since the Nixon administration.
Only Obama and Trump seemed to have done anything worth mentioning. Obama pardoned hundreds of individuals in prison with harsh sentences, and Trump signed the bill to do a good thing for the country as a whole.
4,000 to 6,000 prisoners were automatically qualified for a shorter sentence that would bring their lives back on track and have them return to their families, friends, and homes.
This is long overdue for the US Government and shouldn’t be considered an accomplishment, but a necessary part of federal law that should have been there in the first place.
Yet, the redeeming quality is that the Trump Administration, Republicans, and Democrats made it a goal to treat individuals that have harmed themselves as people that society and the government can aid.
This will cost taxpayers $346 million, a service that American citizens are taking part in funding.
Though the question remains, now with a new Congress, will the Democratic House of Representatives demand more from the Administration when a second step to the prison reform comes?
The fact remains that any type of reform is needed for a system where profit is made from the suffering of prisoners that have made personal, not criminal, mistakes.
This may prove to be easily done due to the newly elected members of Congress. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Congresswoman who has proven to be very difficult at times for both Democrats and Republicans to work alongside with.
This is in terms of reaching across the aisle and functioning as a government where not everyone agrees in politics but does in terms of how to figure out the best solution and compromise.
This is the first step for a prison system that is in need of repair due to being neglected for far too long. Forget about politics, profits, and news outlets: remember the men and women with families that are carrying the burden of a lengthy sentence for a fixable mistake.
Let’s not allow politics as usual to prevent progress.