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Georgia-style criminal justice reform bill proposed in Congress
Training aims to get criminals out of cycle of crime
Doug Collins.2015
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville

Georgia-style criminal justice reform is being proposed at the federal level by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville.

Collins introduced the Prison Reform and Redemption Act on Monday with the hope of reducing recidivism rates of federal prisoners by offering more of them the chance to end their sentences in halfway houses or home confinement if they participate in activities aimed at keeping them out of prison after release.

The bill has bipartisan support — including hardcore Democrats like Houston’s Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee — and the support of reform-minded conservative groups such as FreedomWorks, an offshoot of the tea party movement.

In a Monday announcement, Collins said the bill helps the Department of Justice provide the support prisoners need to “become productive neighbors” once released.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, said the criminal justice system has for too long “destroyed families and wasted hard-earned taxpayer dollars” and “strips too many Americans of their rightfully earned chance at redemption.”

The bill would require the DOJ to draft a “post-sentencing risk- and needs-assessment system in federal prisons,” the announcement states, meaning that when an individual is sentenced and enters federal prison, they’ll be entered into a program that gauges how likely they are to commit a crime once released and creates training programs to prevent it.

Prisoners would be given the chance to earn credited time on their sentence if they complete training on a monthly basis. It also requires the DOJ to collect statistical and demographic data about federal prisoners and report it to Congress.

Training touches on everything from anger management to substance abuse.

The bill includes aspects of Georgia’s state-level criminal justice reform, which has reduced state prison populations and put more state resources into helping prisoners transition back into public life as sentences near their end.

The bill has a mix of Republican and Democratic co-sponsors from Virginia, Michigan, Texas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Wisconsin and California.

In addition to FreedomWorks, the Justice Action Network and the Faith and Freedom Coalition have endorsed the bill.

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