Urge Senators to support Cotton-Kennedy Amendments to the First Step Act

Created: Thursday, December 13, 2018:4:19 PM

The U.S. Senate has been considering prison reform legislation called the First Step Act If this bill becomes law, it would allow sex offenders and violent felons early release from prison. 

Email and call your U.S. Senators NOW urging them to vote for the three (3) amendments of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA).

AFA Action has been monitoring this legislation and has considered the current language of the bill to be significantly short-sighted and would create an alarming public safety concern in our communities.

For example, offenders convicted of coercing a child into illicit sexual activity or child pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b) are still eligible for prerelease custody or supervised release in this legislation.

Senators Cotton and Kennedy have offered three amendments to address the glaring omissions and problems of the First Step Act.

Email and call your U.S. Senators NOW. These amendments could be considered very soon, and your senators need to hear from you now.

Below is a description of the amendments and list of law enforcement organizations in support of the amendments:

Victim Notification and Excluding Sex Offenders and Violent Felons from Early Release

Amendment 1: Exclusion of serious felons from prerelease custody and supervised release
The First Step Act already excludes 52 classes of felons from using credits to transfer into prerelease custody or supervised release for up to one-third of their sentence. This list has grown but is still inadequate. According to career sex-crimes prosecutors, 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b) is a commonly used statute to prosecute attempted child molesters.

Amendment 1 has nine (9) additions of criminals (see table below) who can still participate in anti-recidivism programming but will not be able to leave prison any earlier than current law.  

Additional exclusions

1. Coercing a child to engage in prostitution or any sexual activity 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b)
2. Carjacking with intent to cause death or serious bodily harm 18 U.S.C. § 2119(1)
3. Assaulting a law enforcement officer 18 U.S.C. § 111(a)
4. Bank robbery by force or violence that puts the life of a person in jeopardy 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d)
5. Assisting federal prisoners with jailbreak 18 U.S.C. 752
6. Hate crimes 18 U.S.C. § 249
7. Assault, including a child 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(5)
8. Other felony sex crimes under federal law  
9. Other felony crimes of violence under federal law  

Amendment 2: Victim notification before a offender is allowed to transfer out of prison early 
This amendment would require the warden to notify each victim, when applicable, before an offender is transferred early into prerelease custody or supervised release. It would also give the victim an opportunity to make a statement to the warden before the offender is released, although this is optional for both the victim and the warden.

Amendment 3: Tracking effectiveness of the program
This amendment would require the Bureau of Prisons to track the rearrest data for each prisoner who is transferred out of prison early into supervised release or prerelease custody. This will provide valuable data to measure the effectiveness of the evidence-based anti-recidivism programs in the First Step Act.

Supported by:
National Sheriffs Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Association of Police Organizations, and the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys

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