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Walker Co-Sponsored Legislation to Reform the Criminal Justice System and Enhance Prison Security Passes the House

May 22, 2018
Press Release
The House just passed the FIRST STEP Act to improve the federal prison system through the implementation of corrections policy reforms, strengthen public safety, enhance prison security, and provide inmates the help they need to more successfully reenter society.

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) today released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 5682, the FIRST STEP Act, legislation that Walker co-sponsored:

“America’s prison system routinely turns low level offenders into hardened, repeat offenders. The FIRST STEP Act takes important steps to reverse this trend by expanding education and job training opportunities for prisoners, offering them a much-needed hand up to once again become productive members of society. Justice is not the same as heavy-handedness. The American story is a history of second chances, that’s why we must always ensure that after debts are paid, the path to redemption is paved.”

According to the House Judiciary Committee "the FIRST STEP Act implements a post-sentencing dynamic risk assessment system to determine an inmate’s risk of committing more crimes upon release from prison Under the legislation, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) would utilize effective recidivism reduction programs and provide incentives for inmates to participate in those programs. Ultimately, inmates could earn credits toward an alternative custody arrangement – such as a halfway house or home confinement – at the end of their prison sentence."

The legislation also enhances prison security by requiring the Director of BOP to provide a secure storage area outside the secure perimeter for employees to store firearms or to allow for vehicle lock boxes for firearms. It also requires the Director to provide de-escalation training as part of the regular training requirements of correctional officers.

Additionally, the legislation provides more employment opportunities for inmates by expanding the federal prison industries program and extends the compassionate elderly release provision from the Second Chance Act that allows the prisoner to request for his or her compassionate release if he or she meets the requirements set out in the law.

In April, Walker penned an op-ed in The Hill Congressional Black Caucus Chairman and U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond (D-La.) highlighting the need for criminal justice reform by Congress and calling on congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle to help facilitate action.

"We have the opportunity to restore families and help people find redemption instead of condemnation," they wrote. "Together, we are calling on congressional leadership – of both parties – to dedicate the resources and afford this issue the national attention it deserves."

Read the op-ed in its entirety here.

You can read the full text of the legislation here.