SEVERE WX: Winter Storm Warning View Alerts
CLOSINGS: View Closings

Local impacts of criminal justice reform bill

How the First Step Act could impact our local communities.

Posted: Dec. 20, 2018 2:06 PM
Updated: Dec. 20, 2018 6:41 PM

KIMT News 3 - It's a bill that everyone needs to know about. The First Step Act was passed by the U.S. Senate earlier this week with sweeping bipartisan support, 87 to 12. The bill would reform parts of the criminal justice system. It would ease federal sentencing restrictions when it comes to non-violent offenders, give judges more discretion when sentencing drug offenders, it would boost prisoner rehabilitation efforts and would reduce life sentences for some drug offenders with three convictions to 25 years. While it is gaining widespread support from politicians we're finding out not everyone is in favor.


“Unfortunately none of us know who is going to reoffend,” says Cerro Gordo County Sheriff Kevin Pals.


Sheriff Pals points out federal criminals who may be released early under the First Step Act would be coming back to communities in north Iowa and southern Minnesota. While he hopes they will be rehabilitated and won't reoffend, there is no guarantee. The bill also refers to drug crimes as being non-violent but Pals has an issue with that.


“A lot of people's opinions on drugs now are that they are not violent crimes. Unfortunately, how many lives has that drug user or drug dealer influenced in other people's families?”


The sheriff also says many violent crimes are committed while people are under the influence of drugs and says we need to do a better job of getting people help.


“We need to work together, law enforcement, judicial system, social services, medical; we need to work together to help these people because there are a lot of people falling through the cracks and nobody has the right answer. If we did we wouldn't have this problem in America,” says Pals.

The First Step Act would expand job training and programs in an effort to reduce repeat offenses. The bill now goes to the House for consideration and once it is approved it will go to President Trump's desk to be signed into law.

Article Comments

Mason City
Overcast
25° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 16°
Albert Lea
Overcast
25° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 8°
Feels Like: 15°
Austin
Overcast
28° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 19°
Charles City
Broken Clouds
27° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 15°
Rochester
Overcast
24° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 14°
Tracking a treacherous morning commute.
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Tracking Heavy Snow This Morning

Image

Tow plow giving MNDOT extra help

Image

Sen. Grassley visits Hampton

Image

Kicks for Kindness

Image

Changes to "Community Focus Team"

Image

Seneca sold; the Corn Cob Tower lives!

Image

Governor passes education bills

Image

Prep basketball scores from Tuesday; Mason City punches state ticket

Image

Welcome Baby Duke

Image

Company chosen for second stage

Community Events