The FIRST STEP Act passes in committee, and the news in criminal justice this week

“I’m looking at this from a practical purpose of looking at families and saying let’s help them now.”

The House Judiciary Committee passed the First Step Act by a vote of 25-5, with support from both Republicans and Democrats. The bill includes an increase in earned time credits, expanded eligibility for compassionate release, increased spending on job training and education programs, and a ban on the use of physical restraints on women during pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period.

“[B]ut the issue of bail bond reform has drawn support from a wide range of groups and organizations...”

Starting in July, Google will no longer allow bail bond companies to advertise on its platforms. Google said the decision was based on their commitment to protect users from deceptive and harmful products, and that they came to the decision after consultation with groups including the Essie Justice Group, Koch Industries, and Color of Change. Facebook quickly followed with a statement that the platform would also stop taking ads from the bail bond industry.

“What is needed for this youth and family to be in a better place in life than when they entered our system?”

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation calls for juvenile probation reforms that would divert more youth from the juvenile justice system to community resources, and transform probation into a more effective intervention for those who remain in the system. The report highlighted the successes of the City of St. Louis’s juvenile probation programs, which have contributed to a 59% drop in new charges for young people on probation, and pointed to diversion programs in Summit County, Ohio and Restorative Justice programs in Davidson County, Tennessee as potential models for reform.

“Though many more men are in prison than women, the rate of growth for female imprisonment has been twice as high as that of men since 1980.”

The Sentencing Project analyzed data from 1980 to 2016 and found that the number of incarcerated women and girls had increased by more than 700%, going from 26,378 to 213,722. The incarceration rate varied greatly from state to state, with Oklahoma incarcerating the most (149 of every 100,000 women) and Rhode Island and Massachusetts incarcerating the least (13 of every 100,000 women.)

“She’s not been charged with a crime…She’s been deprived of that money. She’s been unable to open her clinic. She’s been living a nightmare.”

Customs and Border Protection Agents seized more than $40,000 in cash from a registered nurse who planned to open a medical clinic in Nigeria, and have refused to return the money unless she gives up her right to sue the federal government. The U.S. Attorney’s office did not even bring a civil asset forfeiture case against her, and she has not been charged with any crime. Her lawsuit, filed with the assistance of the Institute for Justice, also seeks information about how often CBP requires individuals to sign hold-harmless agreements.