National law enforcement figures discussed the issues they have with the criminal justice reform legislation known as the First Step Act Thursday afternoon with President Donald Trump’s senior staff.
“President Trump won on securing our nation against vicious criminal gangs and we applaud his substantial actions to tackle the opioid epidemic that is destroying our communities,” said the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Executive Director and CEO, Jonathan Thompson, in a press statement.
Thompson went on to say, “According to reports the First Step Act will release dangerous criminals back into our communities without valid job-training. The bill fails to provide substance abuse treatment or individual and family counseling services needed throughout the process to a successful re-entry to society. Law enforcement wants fewer inmates in jails and prisons, but the bill fails terribly. According to the Bureau of Prisons the bill falls far short in the funding, personnel and social services needed to protect our communities.”
According to its website, the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) is one of the largest associations of law enforcement professionals in the United States, and represents over 3,000 elected sheriffs across the country in addition to having a membership of more than 20,000.
Both House Republican and Democrat lawmakers proposed the First Step Act back in May and it passed the lower chamber overwhelmingly. The Senate has yet to take a vote on the bill and despite having the support of President Trump, the NSA and other law enforcement groups say the bill is too lenient on violent criminals and makes the job of law enforcement harder.
“Sheriffs remain deeply concerned over the prospects of the First Step Act. Reports of the legislation calls for the immediate release of up to 4,000 inmates, including dangerous heroin and fentanyl dealers, repeat violent firearm offenders and malicious MS-13 gang members are” disturbing if true. At this point we can’t offer our support without seeing the specific language being considered,” Thompson said. “If this bill becomes law more law enforcement personnel and innocent citizens, who we are sworn to protect, will be needlessly harmed and murdered.”
The Fraternal Order of Police, Conservative Review noted, had already called the bill “unworkable,” saying that “the Department of Justice would be required to make an individualized assessment of all 180,000 federal offenders in just 180 days.”
The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association also stated previously that the legislation would “adversely impact our BOP and PPO members, accelerate the release of potentially dangerous prisoners, and endanger the safety of our other members and society in general.”
Back in May, after the legislation passed the House, nine national law enforcement organizations sent a letter to lawmakers about the problems they had with the bill. The issues spanned from compassionate release provisions to time credit provisions that eradicate caps on home confinement to the cost burden on individual agencies.