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LatinoJustice PRLDEF Decries the First Step Act for Continuing Past Mistakes That Disproportionately Criminalize our Communities


Contact: Christiaan Perez
Phone: 212.739.7581
Email: [email protected] 

The First Step Act Ignores Immigrant Communities and May Expand the Harm to the Brown and Black Communities
New York, NY — Congress has sought to address the broken criminal justice system that disproportionately criminalizes our communities, but the proposed reforms continue to carve out the most vulnerable populations. Yesterday, the Senate passed the First Step Act, a bill that does not go far enough. Now the bill goes on to committee where it needs to be revised in conjunction with a disturbing bill that passed the House of Representatives. In response to this news, Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF issued the following statement:
“Time will tell if the First Step Act will benefit black and brown communities in the long run. Heavily promoted by the private prison lobby it is safe to say it will not. But first we must acknowledge that hundreds if not a few thousand federal prisoners will likely go home sooner under this law and that is a welcome development in any reform.
However, the First Step Act deliberately excluded noncitizens for its benefits further promoting the fallacy that true criminal justice reform does not affect, or should not benefit, the disproportionate number of Latinos in federal prison. The Act also embraces electronic monitoring to the glee of private prisons, and risk assessment tools that haven't been devised, let alone validated. In short, comprehensive reform is what Latinos demand in order to stop America's insatiable appetite for punishment. Comprehensive reform is what will restore the harms on black and brown bodies that Congress has exacerbated and ignored for so long. Comprehensive reform would be the compassionate response to America's place as the world's number one jailer. The First Step Act is not that. LatinoJustice PRLDEF will work to reap the benefits of the law and fight to ameliorate it's worst elements,” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF
For more information on LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Champions of Civil and Human Rights, visit us at or follow us on Facebook and Twitter @LatinoJustice.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education.