Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Chairman Grassley:

As conservatives, we firmly believe in limited, effective government.  It is paramount to ensure that the scope of government does not grow so large as to stifle human flourishing.  No matter if the issue is onerous regulations that smother small businesses or federal mandates on education, the state’s one-size-fits-all approach constantly fails to improve matters and often makes them worse. Perhaps the most noticeable government failure is in the area of public safety.

For decades, American public safety policy focused on protecting our communities using what was assumed was the best tool at hand: incarceration. In the process, our country lost sight of what the end goal should be. Yes, people who commit dangerous crimes must be removed from our communities. However, we ultimately have a responsibility to ensure that those incarcerated ultimately become productive members of society once they return to those communities.

While much of the focus has been at the state level, we have been buoyed by the work of Chairman Grassley over the years to try to advance solutions at the federal level with  legislation to reform problem areas of the criminal justice system that are long overdue.

Now, with the enthusiastic support of the Trump Administration, there is an opportunity that may never come again, a chance to really impact people’s lives while increasing public safety, reducing recidivism and giving people a second chance.  President Trump has outlined seven key tenets of conservative reentry policy, such as a focus on public safety outcomes, the use of proven successful policies, and incentivizing offenders to seek their own redemption rather than simply “waiting out their time.”  Each principle has proven to be effective in states like Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina where conservative criminal justice polices have been implemented.

It is time to take these lessons on prison reform and apply them to the federal system.

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act (H.R. 5682) with a 360-59 vote. The FIRST STEP Act is truly that, movement forward to reform the criminal justice system in ways that builds consensus and will show the American people that the promises made by politicians to improve their lives can be achieved.

We encourage you to quickly take up The FIRST STEP Act and implement each of the principles outlined therein. While there are certainly opportunities to improve the legislation, Senate passage of a clean prison reform bill will provide much needed momentum for future reforms.

We commend your leadership  for taking up this critical issue, which will lead to both safer streets and second chances.


Newt Gingrich
Former Speaker of the House of Representative

Edwin Meese
Former Attorney General of the United States

Robert Ehrlich
Former Governor of Maryland

Mike Huckabee
Former Governor of Arkansas

Jim DeMint
Former United States Senator 

J.C. Watts
Former Member, U.S. House of Representatives

Bob Barr
Former Member, U.S. House of Representatives

Ken Blackwell
Former Secretary of State (Ohio)

Bernie Kerik
Former New York Police Commissioner

David Barnes
Generation Opportunity

Gary Bauer
American Values

Brent Bozell
Media Research Center

Adam Brandon

Dominic Calabro
Florida Taxwatch

Deborah J. Daniels
Former United States Attorney
Former Assistant Attorney General, USDO 

Doug Deason
Deason Foundation 

Craig DeRoche
Prison Fellowship

Donald Devine
The Fund for American Studies

Luis Fortuno
Former Puerto Rico Governor

Brent Gardner
Americans for Prosperity 

Daniel Garza
The Libre Initiative 

Tom Giovanetti
Institute for Policy Innovation 

Rebecca Hagelin
Council for National Policy 

Mark Holden
Freedom Partners 

David Keene
Editor-at-Large, The Washington Times 

Jerry Madden
Former Chairman, Texas House Committee on Corrections 

Penny Nance
Concerned Women for American

Lisa Nelson
American Legislative Exchange Council 

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform 

Pat Nolan
American Conservative Union Foundation

Star Parker
Center for Urban Renewal & Education

Sidney Powell
Attorney, Former Federal Prosecutor

Ralph Reed
Faith & Freedom Coalition 

Stacie Rumenap
Stop Child Predators

David Safavian
American Conservative Union