Trump signs criminal justice overhaul

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE on Friday signed into law a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill after it overwhelmingly passed both chambers earlier this week.

The bill, called the First Step Act, reduces mandatory minimum sentences in certain instances and expands on "good time credits" for well-behaved prisoners looking for shorter sentences. 

It also instructs the Department of Justice to establish a risk and needs assessment system to classify inmate's risk and provide guidance on "housing, grouping, and program assignment."

The Senate approved the bill in a vote of 87-12 on Tuesday while the House approved it 358-36 on Thursday, sending it to Trump's desk.


The bill's passage was a significant victory for Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump's 'soldier of fortune' foreign policy The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Democrats set for Lone Star showdown Exclusive: Kushner tells GOP it needs to unify behind immigration plan MORE, who was involved in negotiations over the bill. Criminal justice reform was one of Kushner's major policy goals since arriving in the White House.

It was also a big victory for a group of GOP senators and advocates who pushed to pass the bill before the end of the year. Previous efforts to pass such reform has long stalled in the Senate.

At the bill signing ceremony on Friday, Kushner noted that "this really took an army of a lot of other people" and noted many people were drawn to the issue of criminal justice reform because of the "pain of the past."

On Thursday, Trump tweeted that the House approving the bill is "a great bi-partisan achievement for everybody. When both parties work together we can keep our Country safer. A wonderful thing for the U.S.A.!!"

When the Senate approved the bill, Trump said that First Step Act would "keep our communities safer, and provide hope and a second chance, to those who earn it. In addition to everything else, billions of dollars will be saved."

Trump's support for the bill was key last month for advocates, and he repeatedly pushed Senate GOP leadership to bring it up for a vote this month.

CNN political commentator Van Jones, a criminal justice reform advocate who has been a vocal critic of Trump on other issues, called passage of the Trump-backed bill "a Christmas miracle."