News and Commentary

NFL Offers ‘Full Support’ For Trump’s ‘First Step’ Initiative

The National Football League announced in a statement Wednesday that it offers its “full support” to a Trump administration initiative, the First Step Act, a prison reform act spearheaded by one of the Left’s least favorite people, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

In a statement first reported by Mediaite, NFL Vice President of Communications Jocelyn Moore said Wednesday that the league “applauds” the Trump initiative. “The National Football League applauds the leadership of the President and bipartisan Members of Congress on criminal justice reform,” Moore said in a statement released Wednesday. “We offer our full support for the revised First Step Act and urge passage this year.”

The First Step Act (S. 3649) “provide[s] for programs to help reduce the risk that prisoners will recidivate upon release from prison” and, in so doing, reduce the number of inmates overall. Here is a summary of its key initiatives provided by the Senate Judiciary:

  • Provides for increased programming designed to reduce recidivism and provides incentives for participation in those programs.
  • Implements a post-sentencing dynamic risk assessment system to determine an inmate’s risk of committing more crimes upon release from prison.
  • Establishes eligibility criteria for and incentivizes participation in evidence-based recidivism reduction programs by allowing prisoners to earn time credits for prerelease custody (defined as residential reentry centers or, for low risk prisoners, home confinement). For example, a prisoner may earn 10 days of time credit for every 30 days of successful participation in a recidivism-reduction program or other eligible activity. However, only prisoners classified as minimum or low risk may redeem these time credits to reduce their sentence.
  • In addition to the exclusion preventing all but those classified as minimum or low risk from redeeming time credits, the bill makes clear that violent and high-risk criminals convicted of certain serious offenses are ineligible for the pre-release custody program, including those convicted of crimes relating to terrorism, murder, sexual exploitation of children, espionage, violent firearms offenses, or those that are organizers, leaders, managers, supervisors in the fentanyl and heroin drug trade. Prisoners are also ineligible to apply time credits if subject to a final order of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

After passing easily in the House in May (360-59), the bill had stalled in the Senate. But amid pressure from Trump and other Republicans, and after some improvements to the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced this week that the Senate will take up the bill as early as this week.

“At the request of the president and following improvements to the legislation that have been secured by several members, the Senate will take up the revised criminal justice bill this month,” McConnell said Tuesday.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin offered his version of praise to Trump for the bill. “When you have a president do something that seems out of political character, it can sometimes make a historic difference,” he said.

In response to McConnell’s reversal, Trump said he’s cautiously optimistic that the bill will “hopefully” pass, noting the “tremendous support” from both Republicans and Democrats the bill has garnered.

The New York Times reports that proponents of the bill say they believe it will receive as many as 85 votes in the Senate.