CCUSA and USCCB welcome Congress’ passage of the FIRST STEP Act

December 21, 2018
Catholic Charities USA Logo on a purple background.

Alexandria, Va. (Dec. 21, 2018) — Following the passage of the FIRST STEP Act in Congress, Sr. Donna Markham OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, Fl., Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development praised Congress for passing the FIRST STEP Act.

The full statement is as follows:

The First Step Act is a true first step towards long-term criminal justice system reform. The Act provides meaningful reform to our nation’s mandatory minimum sentences and “three-strike” policies. This reform provides a more just and equitable criminal justice system. In addition, the Act provides valuable incentives for prisoners to participate in vocational and rehabilitative programs helping to prepare them for reintegration into society. The reauthorization of the Second Chance Act provides access to meaningful local and faith-based programs that help returning citizens contribute to their communities and families.

In response to the passage Sr. Donna said:

“This is a true Christmas gift to families who have been impacted by unjust sentencing policies. Catholic Charities agencies continue to minister to our brothers and sisters returning to their families, and today’s bill will make meaningful progress towards improving those efforts. Reauthorizing the Second Chance Act allows us to continue providing effective reentry programming to reduce recidivism and address intergenerational poverty.”

Cardinal DiNardo stated:

“We are grateful to the members and staff of the Senate and the House for the truly historic bipartisan collaboration that was necessary to pass this bill before Christmas.  We also thank the President and his staff for their support.  The First Step Act advances the causes of justice and mercy in our criminal justice system.  We stand with victims of crime, and we refuse to give up on those who have committed crimes.”

Bishop Dewane, also stated:

“More reform is needed in the future, but now is a time to celebrate that our sentencing laws will promote greater fairness and justice, and our prisons will be better at rehabilitating prisoners, which benefits the whole community.”

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