(The Hill) Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (right) said on Friday that if elected president, he would ask Congress to repeal the criminal justice reform bill signed into law by President Trump at the time, his last attack on Trump from the right.
DeSantis, appearing on “The Ben Shapiro Show,” criticized the First Step Act, a bipartisan bill passed in 2018 that reduced mandatory minimum sentences, expanded credits for well-behaved prisoners seeking shorter sentences, and targeted to reduce recidivism.
The Florida governor, who officially entered the 2024 White House race on Wednesday, called the legislation “essentially a jailbreak bill.”
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“So one of the things I would like to do as president is go to Congress and ask for the repeal of the First Step Act,” he said. “If you are in prison, you should serve your sentence. And the idea that they’re releasing people who haven’t been rehabilitated early, so they can prey on members of our society, is a huge, huge mistake.
DeSantis voted for the original version of the bill in the House while a member of Congress in 2018, which Trump’s team has highlighted. He had resigned from his seat before the final version was put to a vote later in 2018.
Still, the criminal justice bill is an example of how DeSantis is likely to argue that Trump isn’t conservative enough for primary voters. DeSantis’ comments came the same day he told a radio host in Tennessee that he felt Trump was “running to the left.”
Trump signed the First Step Act in December 2018, touting it as a major achievement that would improve community safety and give those who won it a second chance.
But the former president and the Republican Party as a whole have largely strayed from the politics of the criminal justice reform bill in recent years, instead hammering the issue of crime and accusing Democrats of making the less safe cities.
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