01.14.22

Whitehouse & Cornyn Applaud New Bureau of Prisons Rule Adopting Their Input on First Step Act Anti-recidivism Measure

Senators’ bipartisan reforms poised to help Americans successfully transition back to society

Washington, DC – Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) applauded the federal Bureau of Prisons’ final rule implementing the prison reform measures of the senators’ landmark criminal justice reform bill, the First Step Act. Whitehouse and Cornyn authored First Step provisions establishing recidivism reduction programs to allow qualifying inmates to receive reductions to their sentences through time credits. After the Bureau’s initial draft rule failed to carry out those provisions fully, Whitehouse and Cornyn submitted an official comment calling for several improvements, which the Bureau incorporated into the final draft. Whitehouse and Cornyn issued the following joint statement on the final rule:

“For years, we have worked across the aisle on a core component of the First Step Act. Our provisions will reduce the rate of re-offense by connecting people to substance use and mental health treatment, job training, and other programs. The Bureau of Prisons’ first proposal for implementing these reforms fell short of the aims and urgency of our legislation, so we counseled the Bureau to revise its proposal. We’re glad our recommendations are part of the final rule, and gratified to know our bipartisan bill is improving the federal corrections system.”

In their January 2021 comment to the Bureau, the senators raised a number of concerns with the proposed rule, including that it:

  • Failed to give individuals credit for programs they completed after the First Step Act became law in late 2018;
  • Prevented inmates in residential reentry facilities from benefiting from the credits program; and
  • Proposed a needlessly narrow definition of the “days” needed to receive credit for anti-recidivism programming.

The Bureau’s final rule addresses each of the concerns raised in Whitehouse and Cornyn’s 2021 comment.

Press Contact

Rich Davidson (Whitehouse), 202-228-6291

Drew Brandewie (Cornyn), 202-224-0704