Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is lobbying for a bipartisan prison reform bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month. The Republican made the pitch in Spokane this week.
The First Step Act funds education, drug rehabilitation and job skills training programs under the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It also prohibits shackling pregnant female inmates and requires inmates be housed within 500 miles of their families, if possible.
During an hour-long community roundtable, McMorris Rodgers heard from prosecutors and defense attorneys, a superior court judge and counselors who are trying to find ways to divert individuals from entering the prison system at all.
“That is the most cost effective, but it’s also the best for the individual,” McMorris Rodgers said. “And at a federal level, if there’s more that we can do on the front end, I think that’s certainly something we should look at.”
The First Step Act still faces a tough road in the U.S. Senate. Some Democrats argue it doesn’t go far enough to reduce prison sentences or keep people out of prison altogether.