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Stein encourages Congress to support federal criminal justice reform

Attorney General Josh Stein signed on to a letter today urging U.S. House leadership to support the First Step Act, legislation to strengthen the criminal justice system through reforms to facilitate the reentry of people leaving incarceration and to empower prosecutors to seek appropriate sentences.

“This legislation will make our criminal justice system smarter and our communities safer,” said Stein in a news release. “In particular, I strongly support its provisions to support the reentry of the 95 percent of people who are currently in prison and will eventually get out. This year in North Carolina alone, 20,000 people will leave incarceration. Adequately preparing them to succeed upon release reduces repeat crime and reincarceration.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted 87-12 in favor of the First Step Act, and today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve it. It was sent to President Donald Trump for a signature.

He joined 36 other attorney generals who signed the letter, including those from the District of Columbia, Texas, California, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia.

The First Step Act makes limited changes to the federal criminal justice system, including restricting the use of restraints on pregnant women, expanding compassionate release and relaxing a three strikes law.

“As our jurisdictions’ Attorneys General, public safety and the faithful execution of the law fall squarely on our shoulder,” states the letter Stein signed. “Constituents hold us uniquely accountable for ensuring our communities provide a safe place to work and raise a family. To that end, we have supported legislation that strongly punishes criminal conduct while making sure people exiting prison pose less of a threat than when they entered.”

Read the full letter sent to Congress here.

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