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. Following this important achievement, we will continue to look for those criminal justice reform issues where the left and the right can come together for the common good.
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.
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.
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. Please read our Hill Alert HERE.
This bill would limit 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 ENDORSES this bill.
Update: The RESPECT Act was incorporated into the Taxpayer First Act and signed into law on July 10, 2019.