Advocate calls for fundamental shift in criminal justice system

The U.S. criminal justice system needs to be revamped so that it focuses more on rehabilitation than punishment, human rights attorney and advocate Jessica Jackson told Hill.TV on Thursday.

“We really need to fundamentally shift this,” said Jackson, a co-founder of #cut50, a national bipartisan group aimed at reducing the incarceration rate in the U.S.

“It’s not about the kind of crime that the person committed, it’s about how we’re going to provide the support they need to get back on track and be successful when they come home,” she added.

Her advocacy group played an integral role in passing a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE signed into law last year.

The bill, know as the First Step Act, reduces some mandatory minimum sentences and expands on “good time credits” for prisoners looking to reduce their jail time.

Jackson estimates that more than 5,000 inmates have been released as a result of the new law.

Jackson said she has been encouraged by the bipartisanship surrounding criminal justice issues heading into 2020.

“We’re very excited to see, first of all, that this issue is even a campaign conversation — we didn’t see this last election,” she said. “We’ve now got everybody from Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerBlack Caucus pushes for priorities in final deal Cory Booker to campaign for McAuliffe in Virginia Senate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents MORE [D-N.J.] to Sen. [Kamala] Harris [D-Calif.] to former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day Business lobby calls for administration to 'pump the brakes' on vaccine mandate Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Afghanistan reckoning shows no signs of stopping MORE to Donald Trump competing as to whose going to do more on criminal justice reform.”

A number of presidential hopefuls are wrestling with their past “tough on crime” positions.

Biden, who leads the field of Democratic candidates in most national polls, has come under fresh scrutiny for his role in advancing the 1994 crime bill that became law. Many advocates have argued that the law contributed to higher rates of incarceration.

—Tess Bonn