December 18, 2018

Manchin Votes for Criminal Justice Reform

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today voted for the First Step Act, the bipartisan legislation supported by President Trump to reform the criminal justice system.

“I’m proud the Senate was able to come together in a bipartisan way to pass common sense criminal justice and sentencing reform. The revised First Step Act offers a second chance for nonviolent offenders and by focusing on the skills necessary for people to stay out of prison it should reduce incarceration rates. This bill is an important step towards making our communities safer and our justice system fairer,” Senator Manchin said.  

“I’m pleased the Gun Locker bill, which I lead with Senator Toomey, was included.  This legislation requires the Bureau of Prisons to allow a correctional officer at a federal prison or correctional institution to carry their concealed firearm on BOP premises outside the security perimeter and store the firearm outside the security perimeter in a secure storage area or in a vehicle lockbox. Ensuring our correctional officers can commute to and from work without fear for their safety.”

“However, I’m disappointed my bill the Clean Start Act was not included. I’ll continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass the Clean Start Act to allow people with a federal felony or misdemeanor conviction for a past nonviolent crime committed as a result of drug addiction an opportunity to have their criminal record sealed after undergoing comprehensive addiction treatment and demonstrating a commitment to their recovery.”

First Step Act is supported by President Trump, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National District Attorneys Association and the American Civil Liberties Union. The bill would:

Sentencing Reforms

  • Expand the Safety Valve: Allow judges to sentence below the mandatory minimum for qualified low-level nonviolent drug offenders who cooperate with the government.
  • Retroactive Application of Fair Sentencing Act (FSA): Allow individuals still serving sentences under the pre-FSA 100-to-1 crack-powder sentencing disparity to petition for sentence reductions.
  • Reform Unfair Two-Strikes and Three-Strikes Laws: Reduce the 2nd strike mandatory minimum of 20 years to 15 years, and reduce the 3rd strike mandatory minimum of life in prison to 25 years.
  • Eliminate 924(c) “stacking”: Ensure that sentencing enhancements for repeat offenses apply only to true repeat offenders by clarifying enhancements cannot unfairly be “stacked,” i.e., applied to conduct within the same indictment.

Prison Reforms

  • Good Time Credit Fix: Revise the good-time credit law to accurately reflect congressional intent by allowing all federal prisoners to earn 54 days of credit per year, rather than 47 days.
  • New Earned Time Credit: For every 30 days of recidivism-reduction programming or productive activities an eligible prisoner completes, the prisoner will earn 10 days of time credit (plus five additional days for lower risk prisoners) towards early placement in a halfway house, home confinement, or up to one year of supervised release.
  • Independent Review Committee: Establish an Independent Review Committee of outside experts to assist in developing, reviewing, and validating the risk and needs assessment system.
  • Pregnant Prisoners and Feminine Healthcare Products: Prohibit shackling pregnant prisoners and requires healthcare products be provided to incarcerated women.
  • Facilitates Family Contact: Require prisoners be placed within 500 driving miles of their home, and provides additional phone, video conferencing and visitation privileges.
  • Opioid Treatment: Expand evidence-based opioid and heroin abuse treatment for inmates.
  • Strengthen Compassionate Release: Expand compassionate release under the Second Chance Act and expedite and improve transparency in compassionate release applications.
  • Effectively Ends Federal Juvenile Solitary Confinement.