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Rounds: Criminal Justice Reform Legislation Fails to Address Basic Public Safety Concerns

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today issued the following statement regarding his opposition to the First Step Act, legislation that would reform the federal prison system and modify several federal sentencing provisions – which may allow certain violent and drug criminals to be eligible for early release:

“I support the intent of criminal justice reform, particularly for nonviolent offenders, but the First Step Act fails to adequately protect South Dakota families from violent criminals who should remain behind bars. We can’t be soft on crime when we’re facing a serious drug epidemic across our state and nation. Without the support of our attorney general and local law enforcement officials – who will be the ones dealing with dangerous criminals released early from the federal prison system – I could not in good conscience vote in favor of legislation that poses a threat to public safety.”

“Allowing violent criminals to walk free may reduce federal expense, but it certainly doesn’t make society safer. Reducing recidivism rates for non-violent offenders is a worthy pursuit.  However, this legislation does not restrict early release to non-violent only, but unfortunately did not exclude many violent offenders, putting the public at risk.”

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley: “I recognize the need for prison reform, and I support providing additional tools and flexibility to help certain nonviolent offenders to re-enter our communities as safe and productive citizens. While several versions of the legislation provided these important tools and flexibility which I embrace, I share in the concerns about additional safeguards needed in the final legislation to protect victims and our communities from certain violent criminals and sex offenders and remain hopeful that continued work will strengthen these important protections.”


Types of crimes that will now be eligible for early release:

  • bank robbery by force or violence    18 U.S.C. § 2113(c)
  • certain drug-related robbery, even if a person is killed    18 U.S.C. § 2118(a)
  • assaulting a law enforcement officer    18 U.S.C. § 111(a)
  • assisting federal prisoners with jailbreak    18 U.S.C. § 752 
  • assault with a dangerous weapon    18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(3)
  • assaulting a child or infant    18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(5)
  • coercing a child to engage in prostitution or any sexual activity    18 U.S.C. § 2422(b) 
  • threatening to assault, kidnap or murder a federal judge or law enforcement officer    18 U.S.C. § 115(a)(1)(b)
  • hate crimes     18 U.S.C. § 249
  • conspiracy or attempt to engage in human trafficking      18 U.S.C. § 1594
  • trafficking crystal meth     18 U.S.C. § 841(b) 

racketeering     18 U.S.C. § 1951

  • blackmail     18 U.S.C. § 873


Organizations Opposed to The First Step Act:

  • The National Association of Police Organizations
  • National Sheriffs Association
  • FBI Agents Association
  • National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys
  • Major County Sheriffs of America
  • The Association of Federal Narcotics Agents
  • The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation
  • The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
  • The National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition and the
  • Major Cities Chiefs Association