My time in the U.S. Attorney’s Office showed me just how much work we have to do to make sure our justice system works for all Americans. I helped to establish the first federal reentry program for New Jersey residents to help them get back on their feet after serving their time in the federal prison system.
While this is necessary work, we need to do more to ensure people don’t enter prison in the first place. More work must be done to reform the federal sentencing guidelines and bail regulations as well as addressing mental health and substance abuse issues outside our criminal justice system. I support increased funding for early childhood programs such as Head Start which we know pay huge dividends throughout our communities.
I have also sponsored legislation to ensure that we promote good police training, encourage local police forces to implement recruiting and hiring practices that take into account the population served, and end programs that lead to the militarization of local police forces.
We also need to change our laws to reflect the times. Right now, a disproportionate segment of our population serves for small, non-violent possession offenses. The First Step Act was just that—a first step. I’ll keep working in Congress for further action with members from both parties.