On Sunday (June 18), Politico reported that the First Step Act could become a talking point among GOP primary candidates in the 2024 election. Some may use it to criticize former President Donald Trump’s law-and-order policies without alienating his supporters.
Florida’s GOP Governor, Ron DeSantis, has stated that if he became President, he would work to repeal the Trump administration’s signature law.
DeSantis described the First Step Act, a law designed to cut long Federal sentences by crediting inmates with days for “successful participation,” as the “jailbreak bill.”
The Florida Governor made his remarks on “The Ben Shapiro,” claiming the bill “has allowed dangerous people who have reoffended and really, really hurt a number of people,” to have shorter terms.
He added that “one of the first things” he would do when elected President is to approach “Congress and seek the repeal of the First Step Act.”
In 2018, the First Step Act was created to address the issue of over-incarceration and reduce recidivism. This happened two years before the George Floyd protests of 2020, which sparked the Defund the Police movement by Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
Under the law’s compassionate release provision, the Biden administration released Mohamad Youssef Hammoud, a convicted Hezbollah terrorist financier, earlier this year. Hammoud was allowed to return to Lebanon after serving only 23 years of a 30-year sentence that had been adjusted. His original sentence was 155 years.
Several Republican critics of the law have voiced their concerns, including former Arkansas GOP Governor Asa Hutchinson, who previously supported the First Step Act, former Vice President Mike Pence, who collaborated with former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner on the bill, and former Trump administration adviser Steve Cortes. DeSantis is among them.
According to reporting by Newsmax, DeSantis campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said in a statement that, “someone should ask Trump… to clear up once and for all why he supports a bill that allowed a convicted terrorist to be released early and fund more potential attacks.”