Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

Rush Statement on Passage of the First Step Act

May 22, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) released the following statement on the passage of H.R. 5682, FIRST STEP Act:

“The FIRST STEP Act does not address our most pressing issues as they relate to criminal justice reform and does not bring on the significant changes we so desperately need.

“I am deeply troubled that this legislation gives too much discretion to an already problematic Attorney General who has spent his beleaguered tenure undoing America’s criminal justice progress and gives too much leeway to Bureau of Prisons officials who have the power to make arbitrary decisions.

“The Risk Assessment System laid out in this bill would severely deepen the already devastating racial and socioeconomic disparities in our prison system.

“The most glaring issue with this legislation is that it excludes those populations who would benefit the most.  Leaving out entire groups continues to undermine our attempts to undo the very criminal justice system that saw so many communities of color put behind bars.  That said any undertaking of criminal justice reform must include sentencing reform.

“It should be noted that this legislation gives the illusion of giving those in custody a second chance but, too many are simply left out.  For these reasons, I voted NO.

“We must resist the temptation of supporting legislation that appears to reform our broken system and work to pass comprehensive legislation that would be bring about meaningful change.”