CNN commentator Van Jones says the passage of a criminal justice reform bill, set to reduce the federal prison population by more than 50,000 inmates in a decade, is a “Christmas miracle.”
During a segment on CNN’s New Day, Jones praised the Senate’s passage of the First Step Act and President Trump for supporting the legislation, comparing it to a “holiday miracle” that will “close the revolving door of our federal prison.”
“Look this is a Christmas miracle,” Jones said. “You had for the first time in more than a generation, both parties coming together to do something for people at the bottom.”
“This is the right thing to do,” Jones continued. “And what it means is that people can earn their way home sooner by getting themselves job-ready.”
President Trump “became, to the shock of everybody, the biggest, loudest champion on criminal justice … I got 99 conflicts with the Trump administration, prisons are not one.”
— New Day (@NewDay) December 19, 2018
“It’s going to make everybody safer. We’re going to stop wasting genius,” Jones said. “We’re going to close the revolving door of our federal prison. And the CBO says that we will have 50,000 fewer people behind bars in the federal system, from 180,000 to 130,000 over the next seven to 10 years because we’re going to be using these proven programs get a second chance in this country.”
“It is a breakthrough. It is a Christmas miracle,” he continued. “I cannot tell you how excited I am about it.”
“I got 99 problems with the Trump administration, prisons are not one,” Jones said.
As mentioned by Jones, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that the criminal justice reform bill will “reduce the number of prisoners by about 53,000 person-years over the 2019- 2028 period” which CBO researchers say “is roughly equivalent to reducing the federal prison population by 53,000 inmates in one year.”
Likewise, the CBO projects that the legislation will cost American taxpayers about $346 million over the next decade.
The prison reform legislation includes an overhaul of the country’s criminal justice system by reducing mandatory minimum sentences and broadening early release credits for convicted felons who are deemed to be “non-violent criminals.”
The legislation ends the current “three-strikes rule” — which gives an automatic life sentence to three-time convicted violent felons — and instead reduces their sentences to 25 years in prison.
Additionally, the First Step Act makes the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactive, reducing the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences, impacting nearly 3,000 inmates. The bill includes a largescale recidivism reduction program that expands “earned time credits,” allowing inmates to be released to halfway houses or home confinement to finish out their sentences.