The First Step Act remains an opportunity for 2024 GOP primary candidates to hit former President Donald Trump's law-and-order policies without upsetting the MAGA base, Politico reported Sunday.
Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis vows to seek a repeal of the signature Trump administration law if elected president.
"It has allowed dangerous people who have reoffended and really, really hurt a number of people," DeSantis told "The Ben Shapiro Show," Politico reported, having called the First Step Act a "jailbreak bill."
"So one of the things I want to do when I'm president is go to Congress and seek the repeal of the First Step Act."
The 2018 First Step Act sought to reduce over-incarceration and reduce recidivism and it came two years before the George Floyd riots of 2020 led to the crescendo of the Defund the Police movement by Black Lives Matter and antifa.
The law's compassionate release statue allowed the Biden administration to release Mohamad Youssef Hammoud, a convicted Hezbollah terrorist financier, this year to return to Lebanon after serving just 23 years of a 30-year reworked sentence. He was originally sentenced to 155 years.
"Perhaps someone should ask Trump the question again to clear up once and for all why he supports a bill that allowed a convicted terrorist to be released early and fund more potential attacks," DeSantis campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo wrote to Newsmax in a statement Sunday.
DeSantis is not the only GOP critic of the law either. Among the others, according to Politico: former Arkansas GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who had praised the First Step Act; former Vice President Mike Pence, who worked on the bill with former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner; and even former Trump administration adviser Steve Cortes.
Republican pollster Adam Geller noted the First Step Act might be a way to boost GOP primary polls, but it ultimately will not be a winning strategy in the general election or with Congress if you were to win.
"On the assumption that you become president, who exactly you're going to solicit to overturn this legislation?" Geller told Politico. "Republicans voted for it. So did Democrats.
"When you say you're going to overturn that, with who?"
Also, Alice Marie Johnson, who had her drug-related life sentence commuted by Trump, rejected opposition to the First Step Act.
"What they're doing is dehumanizing the people," Johnson told Politico. "The uptick in crime is not because of the First Step Act.
"I say … shame on them for mischaracterizing this."
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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