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    ‘It's a Smokescreen': US Senate's New Prison Reform Bill Has ‘Serious Problems'

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    The move by the US Senate to pass the First Step Act, a piece of legislation intended to reform the US criminal justice system, isn't exactly a step in the right direction, Jacqueline Luqman, co-editor-in-chief of Luqman Nation, told Sputnik.

    The First Step Act, officially known as the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act, got the thumbs up from the Senate on Tuesday with a vote of 87 to 12.

    Moments after the late Tuesday approval, US President Donald Trump celebrated the vote, tweeting, "America is the greatest Country in the world and my job is to fight for ALL citizens, even those who have made mistakes."

    "This will keep our communities safer, and provide hope and a second chance, to those who earn it. In addition to everything else, billions of dollars will be saved," he added.

    ​While many are calling the legislation a victory, the fine print doesn't exactly suggest that's the case, Luqman told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Wednesday.

    "This is an interesting development, because I was pretty certain that the Senate would not vote for this at all, because there is so much opposition from several key senators," Luqman told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. "When you read the legislation, it's really not a great bill."

    "First of all, it only applies to federal prisons. It does not apply to most incarcerated people. The vast majority… are not in federal prisons. This only applies to 181,000 incarcerated people," Luqman explained.

    In addition to the country's 181,000 federal inmates, another roughly 2.1 million people are in prison or in jail in America.

    The First Step Act also raises other concerns, such as language in the bill that calls for prisoners' phone time with family members to be reduced, Luqman said. Inmates are currently allowed some 30 minutes daily.

    "There are some serious problems with this bill that people are celebrating," Luqman told Becker.

    "It's a smokescreen; it's a shell game; it's a feel-good piece of policy that politicians can get behind and stand in front of the affected communities and say, ‘See, I've done something for you.'"

    The bill, which is headed for the House of Representatives, is expected to pass with flying colors before landing on Trump's desk.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    First Step Act, prison reform, Congress, Donald Trump, United States
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