Sen. Cotton seeks to amend First Step

Sen. Tom Cotton has offered three amendments to First Step — the leniency for federal felons legislation that President Trump supports. Sen. Cotton’s amendments would:

(1) Make nine additions to the bill’s “ineligible prisoners” list for violent felons and sex offenders who are eligible for time credits. This includes sex offenders convicted of coercing a child into sexual activity under 18 U.S.C. § 2422; felons who assault law enforcement officers under 18 U.S.C. § 111(a); and bank robbers who use violence under 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d).

This amendment will prevent felons who commit these crimes from transferring out of prison into prerelease custody or supervised release any earlier than under current law. It would thus limit the scope of the First Step jailbreak.

(2) Add a requirement that victims be notified before an offender is transferred out of prison into prerelease custody or supervised release. I don’t understand why anyone would oppose this requirement.

Yet, Sens. Lee and Durbin have not included it in First Step. Their compassion seems to run only one way — to criminals, not victim.

(3) Improve the tracking and data collection of the bill by publishing the rearrest rates of offenders who commit crimes while in prerelease custody or supervised release. This will help determine whether the bill’s so-called evidence-based recidivism reduction programs, many of which are a joke, have the positive impact supporters say they will.

If First Step supporters actually believe in the efficacy of their “evidence-based recidivism reduction programs” they should have no qualms about supporting improved tracking and data collection.

Sen. Cotton’s office has asked the White House for a Statement of Administration Policy on his three amendments. The Senator wants to know whether the administration supports, opposes, or is neutral towards them.

The request from Cotton’s office highlights his first amendment to First Step:

In particular, we are interested in whether the White House supports, opposes, or is neutral towards Amendment I which excludes the following offenders (and others) from earning time credits that can be used to transfer into supervised release or prerelease custody for up to one-third of the offender’s sentence.

Coercing a child to engage in prostitution or any sexual activity – 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b)
Carjacking with intent to cause death or serious bodily harm – 18 U.S.C. § 2119(1)
Assaulting a law enforcement officer – 18 U.S.C. § 111(a)

Because these specific statutes are missing from the “ineligible prisoners” list in the filed version of the First Step Act, without our amendment these offenders will be eligible for prerelease custody and supervised release.

(Emphases added)

We’ll try to keep you posted on how the White House responds. In the meantime, readers might want to encourage contacts they may have at the White House to support Cotton’s amendments.