Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined a bipartisan coalition of 38 attorneys general in sending a letter to House and Senate leadership, announcing support for the First Step Act. The legislation has been passed by both the House and the Senate and was signed into law today by President Trump.

“The First Step Act will create a more just and fair criminal just system and provide necessary tools, like crucial re-entry programs, to help folks who are reentering society,” said Attorney General Herring. “I stand with my fellow attorneys in supporting this important legislation and I am pleased that both the House and the Senate agree and have passed the First Step Act.”

The letter reads, “as our jurisdictions’ Attorneys General, public safety and the faithful execution of the law fall squarely on our shoulders. Constituents hold us uniquely accountable for ensuring our communities provide a safe place to work and raise a family. To that end, we have supported legislation that strongly punishes criminal conduct while making sure people exiting prison pose less of a threat than when they entered.”

The First Step Act would strengthen the criminal justice system by enacting prison reforms, such as providing additional tools and flexibility to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, ensuring people are prepared for re-entering communities after leaving prison, and allowing prosecutors to seek the most appropriate sentence for each individual.

The letter concludes, “On a bipartisan basis, we request that Congress enact legislation to strengthen our criminal justice system to better safeguard the people of our states. We believe the First Step Act contains many helpful reforms and strongly encourage Congress to provide the bill with a full and open debate.”

Attorney General Herring has implemented  to reform and strengthen Virginia’s criminal justice system by making it more fair, equal, just, and safe. He previously launched a series of regional trainings on 21st century policing skills like de-escalation and recognition of implicit bias. He also hired the state’s first Local Jail Re-Entry Coordinator to help sheriffs and regional jails start or expand re-entry services that help ex-offenders successfully transition back into their communities without committing further crimes. He also launched a program called “Give It, Get It: Trust and Respect between Teens and Law Enforcement,” to promote positive dialogue between young people and law enforcement, and to reduce the fear and potential risk during interactions. Most recently, Attorney General Herring called for a reform of the cash bail system in Virginia and launched the state’s first re-entry portal, providing a one-stop shop for people involved in every phase of helping Virginians re-enter communities after incarceration.

Joining Attorney General Herring in sending this letter are the attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.