Washington, DC—Today, United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) President Columbia (SC) Mayor Steve Benjamin sent a letter to Senator Lindsey Graham to register the strong bipartisan support of the nation’s mayors for the First Step Act of 2018 (S.3649).  A text of the letter can be found below.

“This proposed legislation, of which Senator Graham is an original co-sponsor, addresses a critical problem in this country and offers meaningful progress towards a more sensible, equal and just criminal justice system.  It is intended to improve fairness in the sentencing of federal crimes, reduce recidivism, and promote public safety. This important bill, which has garnered bipartisan support among mayors and in Congress and has the support of the White House deserves swift passage this year,” said Mayor Benjamin.

The text of the letter reads:

November 26, 2018

The Honorable Lindsey Graham

United States Senate

290 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Graham:

I write to register the strong support of the nation’s mayors for the First Step Act of 2018 (S. 3649) and to commend you for your leadership on this issue and sponsorship of this bill.  We urge the Senate to act on it as quickly as possible in the lame duck session so that it can be conferenced with House legislation and signed by the President.

S. 3649 is bipartisan legislation that would bring needed reforms to the criminal justice system.  It would address decades of serious inequities in federal sentencing for certain drug offenders, target violent criminals, and grant judges greater discretion at sentencing for lower-level drug crimes.   It would clarify and reduce the enhanced mandatory minimum sentence for certain firearm offenses and apply the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactively.  The bill also contains provisions intended to reduce recidivism by helping federal prisoners successfully re-enter society – provisions that we believe are essential to meaningful justice reform.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is a bipartisan organization and we are especially pleased to be urging support of bipartisan legislation that addresses a critical problem in this country.  This sorely needed legislation has broad support and is important to our cities, our residents, and our nation.  We are committed to seeing such criminal justice reform legislation enacted into law this year.

I want to take this opportunity as well to invite you to address the mayors during our Winter Meeting in Washington, January 23-25.  That meeting will bring more than 200 mayors from across the country to Washington and provide an excellent opportunity for you to discuss criminal justice and other issues of mutual concern on which we can work together.


Stephen K. Benjamin

Mayor of Columbia, SC