Cindy Hyde-Smith

United States Senator for Mississippi


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Bipartisan Federal Initiative Follows Mississippi Efforts to Reduce Inmate Recidivism, Reform Sentencing Guidelines

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) on Tuesday night voted in favor of bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation aimed at reducing inmate recidivism and reforming federal sentencing guidelines while protecting the public.

The First Step Act of 2018 (S.3649) would authorize programs to reduce the risk of prisoners committing new crimes after leaving prison.  The measure passed on a 87-12 vote after the legislation was strengthened to address the concerns of the law enforcement community.  It has been endorsed by President Trump, Governor Bryant, and other Mississippi leaders representing a wide variety of law enforcement and faith-based organizations.

“Mississippi is making progress on criminal justice reform, and this bill is a solid step toward making much-needed reforms on the federal level,” Hyde-Smith said.  “Prisoners, who have a low risk of recidivism, may use this bill to earn an earlier release, but only after meeting criteria that can help them lead productive lives after their incarceration.  These changes should, in the end, be good for taxpayers and our society overall.”

The bill would provide workforce training opportunities for eligible inmates to prepare for life after prison, while also making commonsense reforms to certain federal sentencing guidelines.  Faith-based anti-recidivism programs are embraced in the bill, as are steps to enhance officer safety.

Importantly, the legislation includes a detailed list of offences that would disqualify an inmate from receiving time credits and other benefits in the bill.  It would, for example, ensure criminal illegal immigrants or dangerous offenders, including those who have committed crimes against children or with violent firearm offenses, cannot benefit from these reforms.

Hyde-Smith joined President Trump and Mississippi officials in Gulfport for a roundtable discussion on criminal justice reform in late November.  She has also met with multiple administration officials and advocates during the development of the bill.

Summaries of the First Step Act are available here and here.


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