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 At the close of the 115th Congress, the First Step Act passed the Senate (87-12)  and the House of Representatives (358-36) and was signed into law by President Trump on December 21, 2018. This bill, which made positive changes to the federal prison system as well as some modest federal sentencing reforms was the most significant bipartisan criminal justice reform passed in almost a decade and was one of the first major reform campaigns for the Due Process Institute .


Following this important achievement, The Due Process Institute continues to look for those criminal justice reform issues where the Left and Right can come together for the common good as well as new partnerships from across the political spectrum to join our efforts to prevent the further erosion of procedural due process rights in the criminal legal system.

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Current Legislative Priorities

H.R. 4018 - Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program

H.R. 5546 - Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act

H.R. 4018 - Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program

Update: The bill passed the House by unanimous voice vote and has moved to the Senate.


This bill would correct a drafting error that limits the eligibility of the Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program in the FIrst Step Act.  Rather than requiring that 2/3 of the original sentence be served, it would require that the inmate serve  2/3 of the sentence "reduced by any credit toward the service of the prisoner’s sentence awarded under" the Good Time Credits.


 The Due Process Institute ENDORSES this bill. 

H.R. 2513 - Corporate Transparency Act of 2019

H.R. 5546 - Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act

H.R. 4018 - Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program

Update: The bill passed the House 249 - 173 and has moved to the Senate.


This bill would require people who form or already own small businesses and many nonprofits to submit extensive personal, financial, and business-related information to the government.  H.R. 2513 creates 5 new federal crimes, defined with vague terms and standards, for first-time offense paperwork violations. The new  regime would result in high burdens for small businesses and charities, exposing individuals to potential privacy violations as well as incarceration. The original cosponsors are Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY), and Tom Malinkowski (D-NJ). 


The Due Process Institute OPPOSES this bill and several related measures in both the House and the Senate. 

H.R. 5546 - Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act

H.R. 5546 - Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act

H.R. 5546 - Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act

Update: The bill has passed the House Judiciary Committee. 


This bipartisan bill would require the Bureau of Prisons to create a system to allow those in federal custody the right to confidentially communicate over e-mail with their attorneys without government monitoring. 


The Due Process Institute ENDORSES this bill. 

H.R. 3884 - The MORE Act

S. 2566 - Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act

H.R. 5546 - Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act

Update: The bill has passed the House Judiciary Committee.


The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3884)  would de-schedule marijuana, removing it from the Controlled Substances Act, and would provide a process for courts to expunge marijuana convictions and re-sentence people with marijuana convictions. 


The Due Process Institute ENDORSES this bill.

S. 2566 - Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act

S. 2566 - Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act

S. 2566 - Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act

This bill would protect due process and the right to a jury trial by ensuring that during sentencing, a judge is not permitted to consider conduct for which the defendant was found not guilty. This guarantees that a defendant's sentence is based only on the conduct for which he or she was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.


The Due Process Institute ENDORSES this bill.

H.R. 1895 - The FAIR Act

S. 2566 - Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act

S. 2566 - Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act

The Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act of 2019 improves protections for Americans when facing civil asset forfeiture. It increases the burden of proof from a preponderance of evidence to clear-and-convincing evidence; ends the practice of equitable sharing; and directs forfeiture funds into a general fund to disincentivize wrongful takings, among other protections. Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD)  are the lead co-sponsors. The other original co-sponsors are Reps. Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Tom McClintock (R-CA), and Bobby Rush (D-IL).  


The Due Process Institute ENDORSES this bill.

S. 1074 / H.R. 2168 - The REAL Act

H.R. 5675 - Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act of 2020

H.R. 5675 - Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act of 2020

The Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act, would restore Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated individuals so they can receive post-secondary education in prison.  The original cosponsors are Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Dick Durbin (D-IL). 


The Due Process Institute ENDORSES this bill. 

H.R. 5675 - Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act of 2020

H.R. 5675 - Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act of 2020

H.R. 5675 - Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act of 2020

Update: On March 11th, 2020 the House passed a compromise package of reforms. The Senate rejected this legislation and has voted to extend the Section 215 programs for 77 days so they can fully consider more thoughtful reforms. 


SAPRA will restore reasonable safeguards for the privacy of American citizens by significantly reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act in ways that will not undermine our national security. It would have done so by officially ending the Section 215 Call Detail Records program, imposing uniform warrant requirements similar to those in our criminal justice system, and preventing federal agencies from fabricating parallel investigations  to protect evidence collected in a manner that conflicts with federal law or Constitutional protections. 


The Due Process Institute ENDORSES this bill.

S. 3398 - EARN IT Act

H.R. 5675 - Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act of 2020

H.R 5065 - Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act

This legislation will create a national commission that will be tasked with creating “best practices” for how private technology companies can detect certain illegal content and help combat child sexual exploitation. While an important goal, this legislation presents a significant risk of violating the constitutional rights of many Americans and exacerbating many of the problems already existing in our criminal justice system.  


The Due Process Institute OPPOSES this bill. 

H.R 5065 - Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act

H.R 5065 - Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act

H.R 5065 - Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act

Update: On January 8th, 2020 the House passed this legislation and it is awaiting a vote by the Senate's Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. 


This bill will expand access to entrepreneurship training and business mentorship to individuals who are returning to their community from federal prison.


The Due Process Institute ENDORSES this bill. 

S. 3240 - Trafficking Survivors Relief Act of 2020

H.R 5065 - Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act

S. 3240 - Trafficking Survivors Relief Act of 2020

This bill will help victims of human trafficking avoid the negative consequences of a criminal record connected with their victimization. It both allows judges to vacation convictions and expunge federal arrest records when a criminal conviction is connected to their victimization. 


The Due Process Institute ENDORSES this bill.

H.R. 4252 - Shift Back to Society Act of 2019

H.R 5065 - Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act

S. 3240 - Trafficking Survivors Relief Act of 2020

This bill will establish 10 pilot reentry programs at historically black colleges and universities with funding to match the resources already committed by these institutions.


The Due Process Institute ENDORSES this bill. 

S. 3441 - Fair Hiring in Banking Act

S. 3441 - Fair Hiring in Banking Act

S. 3441 - Fair Hiring in Banking Act

Current law prevents individuals with a criminal record from working in the banking industry. This legislation would reduce the barriers faced by qualified individuals solely on account of their criminal record by reducing the necessary waiting periods imposed by federal law.


The Due Process Institute ENDORSES this bill. 

S. 3441 - Fair Hiring in Banking Act

S. 3441 - Fair Hiring in Banking Act





S. 3441 - Fair Hiring in Banking Act




Recent Legislative Efforts

E-mail Privacy Act

This bill would have set standards for government access to private internet communications without a warrant.  The reforms would have implemented the Sixth Circuit’s decision in U.S. v. Warshak, which held that email content is protected by the Fourth Amendment and that law enforcement access requires a probable cause warrant.


The Due Process Institute ENDORSES this bill. 


Outcome: The House of Representatives passed this bill as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 but this provision failed to be approved in the Senate. 

USA PATRIOT Act Section 314(a)

Section 314 and its implementing regulations already give significant cause for concern and fail to adequately protect Americans’ Fourth Amendment and privacy rights. Previous attempts to expand this program through statutory or regulatory means are even more concerning. It is our hope that FinCEN will reevaluate the necessity and efficacy of the Section 314 program and ultimately abandon the practice of warrantless bulk searches and seizures of financial records, or at the very least, adopt clear legal standards and procedural measures consistent with our foundational Constitutional rights. 


The Due Process Institute OPPOSES any attempted expansion of the Section 314 program.

H.R. 2851 / S.1327 - SITSA

Both the House and Senate considered the inclusion of "Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Scheduled Analogues" (SITSA) (H.R. 2851/S. 1327) as part of their bill packages to take action relating to the nation's opioid epidemic. The bill would broadly expand penalties for drug offenses, concentrate power within the Department of Justice (DOJ), punish people who lack criminal intent, and overcriminalize certain behavior. 


The Due Process Institute OPPOSED this bill. 


Outcome: The House's final opioid bill package did not include SITSA.  

H.R. 1219 / S. 1099 - Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act

This bill limited the IRS in its forfeiture power in cases where the only suspected crime is "structuring" rather than another crime for which structuring is used to conceal wrongdoing. 


The Due Process Institute ENDORSED this bill. 


Outcome: The RESPECT Act was incorporated into the Taxpayer First Act and signed into law on July 10, 2019.