Article from Reason by C.J. Ciaramella.

The House passed the FIRST STEP Act by a wide bipartisan vote today, sending the first major piece of criminal justice reform legislation in years to the White House for signing.

The FIRST STEP Act passed by a vote of 358-36 after sailing through the Senate Tuesday. Its passage is the culmination of a year of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, law enforcement groups, the White House, and a coalition of conservative and liberal advocacy groups.

“The FIRST STEP Act is the most significant effort that the federal government will take to date to reduce federal prison populations after decades and decades of doing the opposite and trying to increase our prison populations,” Inimai M. Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, said in a conference call with reporters. “Of course, this bill is not going to end mass incarceration, but it is a significant and large step forward.”

The legislation would expand reentry and job training opportunities for federal inmates and require them to be housed within 500 miles of their families, when possible. The version passed by the Senate also added four changes to federal sentencing law that would reduce some mandatory minimum sentences, expand judges’ discretion under the so-called safety valve, and make the reductions to crack cocaine sentences under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 apply retroactively. The latter provision will result in reduced sentences for approximately 3,000 crack cocaine offenders in federal prison.

Read the entire article at Reason.