Today, the U.S. House just fully enrolled the First Step Act, which is now en route to the Resolute Desk as we speak.
Congratulations are in order. First and foremost, Texas’s own John Cornyn deserves recognition for his dogged work on this issue, extending all the way back to 2013. Senator Cruz also cosponsored the bill. Our senators recognized the work that has been put in by Texas legislators like Senator John Whitmire and former Corrections Chairman Jerry Madden.
More than a decade ago, here in Texas, these leaders recognized that while prisons are a necessary component to public safety, that if they are the only tool in the toolbox, we are doing the public a dangerous disservice. The First Step Act borrows a page from Texas’s playbook, emphasizing rehabilitation for those who will be rejoining our communities.
Almost everything done in the First Step Act has analogous policy found here in Texas, advanced under the conservative leadership of Governors Perry and Abbott. The risk assessment. The incentive credits. All have contributed to Texans enjoying the lowest crime rate since 1966.
And we – nor the issue – are not going anywhere. We are specifically looking forward to working with Senator Cotton of Arkansas, who in a USA Today op-ed rightly identified the ever-growing problem with overcriminalization, an issue we’ve been working on for years. There is an opportunity here on this issue, and many others.
This bill is a case study in what can be accomplished when an idea’s time has come.