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Press Release

FreedomWorks Applauds President Trump for Commutations, Calls for Senate to Act on Criminal Justice Reform

Washington, DC-- FreedomWorks applauds President Trump for using his Article II powers to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson and calls for the Senate to pass the FIRST STEP Act, H.R. 5682, to enact substantial and necessary criminal justice reform.

Last month, the House passed the FIRST STEP Act in a landslide, demonstrating its commitment to reforming America’s broken prison system and unfair sentencing processes. Alice Marie Johnson’s commutation shows President Trump’s commitment to criminal justice reform. It is now the Senate’s turn to take up the FIRST STEP Act and deliver.

FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jason Pye commented:

“In an act of presidential clemency, President Trump made the right decision this week to commute Alice Marie Johnson’s sentence. While certainly a step in the right direction, President Trump should also commute the sentence of Matthew Charles of Tennessee. Originally sentenced to 35 years on drug charges, Charles was released in 2016 after a sentencing reduction under the Fair Sentencing Act. However, an overzealous U.S. attorney appealed the decision, sending Charles back to prison last month.”

“By all accounts, Charles was a model prisoner who was determined to begin a new chapter in life and had done so in an exemplary way for the short period he had been back in society. While in prison, Charles became a man of faith. He restored ties with his family, got a job, and began volunteering at a local food pantry. Apparently, that’s not enough for our backwards criminal justice system that would rather punish Charles for turning his life around.”

“The Senate has an excellent opportunity to right some of these wrongs in the criminal justice system. Provisions of the FIRST STEP Act would help reduce recidivism and give those who have lowered their risk of re-offending a second chance at a productive life. We call on both Senate Republicans and Democrats to come to their senses and pass this common sense legislation.”