News Tip: Bipartisan Effort to Reform Criminal Justice ‘Urgently Needed,’ Expert Says

On Wednesday, President Trump signaled his support for the First Step Act, a bipartisan bill aimed at reforming federal prison and sentencing practices.  

  • Quotes:
    “Criminal justice reform has never been more bipartisan or more urgently needed,” says Duke University law professor Brandon Garrett. “In particular, the First Step Act introduced in the Senate has the potential to make the federal system far more of a model.”
  • “The act has a more comprehensive focus on rational sentencing and re-entry for prisoners. It reflects compromises, but it will hopefully become what it announces – a first step towards sensible criminal justice reform at the federal level.”
  • “It will be equally important for the Department of Justice to reorient its priorities away from severe charging and sentencing and towards risk, needs, and re-entry.” 
  • Bio:
  • Brandon L. Garrett, the L. Neil Williams, Jr. Professor of Law at Duke University's School of Law, is a leading scholar of criminal justice outcomes, evidence, and constitutional rights and an expert on such topics as the death penalty and wrongful convictions. Researchers at Duke Law, collaborating with Garrett, have been working on projects designed to assess and develop criminal justice policy approaches at both the federal and state level, including by studying the use of risk assessment to divert low-risk offenders, examining patterns in sentencing, and re-entry and collateral consequences ( 

For additional comment, contact Professor Garrett at:

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