Pushing for Federal Criminal Justice Reform


Making smart reforms in the justice system that reduce crime and produce better outcomes for everyone has been one of Attorney General Racine’s key goals since he took office. That’s why today he led a broad, bipartisan coalition of 38 state attorneys general calling on House leadership to enact the FIRST STEP Act after the Senate passed the bill earlier this week.

This long-overdue legislation would help make communities safer by promoting rehabilitation for inmates in the federal justice system – increasing the chances that they will successfully re-enter the District and other communities after completing their sentences. The FIRST STEP Act would incentivize federal inmates to participate in programs like vocational training and schooling that help increase their chances of getting a job after leaving prison. The bill also puts more tools in the hands of prosecutors, allowing them to seek the most appropriate sentence for an individual’s crimes. These include scaling back “mandatory minimum” requirements and other provisions – like increased penalties for crack versus regular cocaine – that have led to significant racial disparities in sentencing in the last 30 years.

“This legislation provides additional tools and flexibility to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, better equipping our correctional system to ensure that people coming back into our communities are prepared to do so as responsible citizens who do not pose a risk to our communities,” AG Racine and his counterparts wrote in the letter to House and Senate leadership.

The legislation is particularly important for the District because all District inmates are housed in federal prisons. In addition to making the District safer by increasing the chance that inmates will find jobs post-incarceration, the FIRST STEP Act would specifically help D.C. families maintain ties by incarcerating people closer to home. This promotes easier re-entry into the community.

The FIRST STEP Act has also earned the support of advocates, leaders, and law enforcement groups across the ideological spectrum.

Read the full letter here: http://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2018-12/Letter-to-Congress-re-First-Step-Act-Final.pdf

As chief prosecutor for crimes committed by juveniles in the District of Columbia, AG Racine is working to make the District safer and more fair for all its residents. Learn about the evidence-based reforms AG Racine has implemented in the District, including juvenile diversion programs and restorative justice.