Indiana's Attorney General endorses prison reform legislation

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill signed a bipartisan letter on Thursday endorsing the national prison reform legislation known as the First Step Act.

He is one of 37 other attorney generals to do so.

In the letter, the attorney generals wrote, “This legislation provides additional tools and flexibility to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, better equipping our correctional system to ensure that people coming back into our communities are prepared to do so as responsible citizens who do not pose a risk to our communities. The bill also puts more tools in the hands of prosecutors, allowing them to seek the most appropriate sentence for the individual’s crimes.”

Following the signing, Attorney General Hill released the following statement:

“All Americans should be encouraged by the bipartisan manner in which Congress and the White House have worked together toward the improvement of the federal criminal justice system. As to the specific measures enacted as part of the First Step Act, I especially applaud the new incentives encouraging inmates to participate in programs that develop skills, improve character and reduce the risk of recidivism. I expressed my strong support for such measures to President Trump and Vice President Pence at a White House summit on prison reform this past May.

“We can and must insist that offenders are provided genuine and meaningful opportunities to turn their lives around and break the cycles that lead them repeatedly into criminal behavior. The best correctional models are those that not only penalize offenders for their crimes but that also address social, emotional, spiritual, educational and family issues through targeted services.

"I support commonsense reforms such as equalizing penalties for crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. I also support granting judges greater discretion in handing down sentences. However, I continue to have reservations about legislation that summarily reduces sentences for chronic criminal behavior.

“People still need to be held accountable to the law. We must recognize that a very small percentage of people commit the large majority of crime in any particular community. And in order to protect law-abiding citizens, we must keep chronic offenders off the streets.

“On balance, the First Step Act represents welcome progress for the federal criminal justice system. In an era of political polarization, it also represents the kind of bipartisan compromise that is needed in a healthy democratic republic.”

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