The human and monetary costs of continuing down the path we are on now are way too high. Today, there are over 2 million individuals in prison. Over 180,000 of those people are in federal prison, which is more than any one state’s prison population. While the prison incarceration rate is at a 20 year low, the United States still incarcerates a larger share of its population than any other country in the world.

To make matters worse, many times the only way a non-violent offender can receive any sort of justice is if they receive a presidential commutation or court reduced sentence, often times with the help of a celebrity.

That is why we need the First Step Act, a comprehensive bipartisan bill that gives non-violent and low-risk prisoners the opportunity to receive the justice they deserve.

Rather than simply warehousing offenders, the bill requires the Bureau of Prisons to create risk assessment tools to evaluate each inmate. Low risk offenders are then given the option of undergoing evidence-based programming to help break the cycle of criminality. Inmates earn time credits, which allows them to spend some time of their sentence in prerelease custody, an alternative for low risk offenders that not only helps them reintegrate into society under supervision, but also reduces costs to taxpayers. The bill also includes modest sentencing reforms to ensure that low-level and non-violent offenders receive time that better fits the crime.

Demri Scott of Americans for Tax Reform and Digital Liberty wrote an op-ed in the Washington Examiner, detailing why we need the First Step Act. Scott writes that,

“Keeping nonviolent and low-risk criminals in prison has human and monetary costs that we simply cannot afford to ignore.

To make matters worse, many times a presidential commutation or a court-reduced sentence, advocated for by a celebrity, is the only way a nonviolent, low-risk offender can receive any sort of justice when a hugely long sentence does not fit the crime…

Simply warehousing people for decades for nonviolent crimes with little way out, except for celebrity support, is ruining lives while also draining valuable taxpayer dollars. We need sentencing reform and the First Step Act because everyone worthy of release doesn’t have the Kardashians and Snoop Doggs of the world going to bat for us”

To read the rest of the op-ed click here.