Trump Wants to Raise First Step Funding Dramatically

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President Trump feted his months-old First Step Act with an elaborate celebration Monday, while he backed an effort to provide more funding for the new measure. Criminal justice advocates were alarmed last month when the administration’s budget proposal requested only $14 million to implement the new law in the year starting Oct. 1,  a number that fell far short of the $75 million per year authorized in the statute. The figure was low partly because the budget process wrapped up before the legislation was signed in December, one official said, the Washington Post reports. The administration has revised that figure upward to about $147 million. “My administration intends to fully fund and implement this historic law,” Trump told a room packed with advocates, lawmakers and people who have benefited from the legislation. “It’s happening, and it’s happening, fast.”

Trump said 16,000 inmates have already enrolled in drug treatment programs through the law. Advocates of the First Step Act are pleased that the administration has revisited its budget request. “It’s clear that they’re actually trying to increase the amount that they will be getting,” said Jessica Jackson of #Cut50, which  pushed for passage of the First Step Act. More than once in recent days, Trump has walked back his own administration’s budget figures for broadly popular or politically significant programs like the Special Olympics amid public pressure. Commenting on the initial $14 million specified for the First Step Act, Marc Levin of the Texas Public Policy Foundation said, “It could’ve been an oversight. The administration’s been trying to rein in federal spending overall, which is admirable, but what we found at the state level is if we don’t invest in alternatives to prison or reentry programs, then we aren’t able to break the reentry cycle.”

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