November 30, 2018

Bread Urges Congress to Support the First Step Act

Joseph Molieri/Pan para el Mundo

Washington, D.C. – Bread for the World urges Members of Congress to support the revised FIRST STEP Act (S. 3649) and commends Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) for ensuring this legislation includes key sentencing reforms. This bipartisan legislation addresses unjust sentencing laws and provides returning citizens with the skills they need to succeed. 

“As its name implies, the FIRST STEP Act is only an initial step towards criminal justice reform,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “Reforming the criminal justice system is a work in progress and critical to ending hunger and poverty in the United States.”

The FIRST STEP Act reduces mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offences and gives judges more flexibility in sentencing. It provides for education, training, and treatment programs that will reduce recidivism to help people successfully reenter society.

While the FIRST STEP Act is an important first step, Bread is cautious that the risk assessment tool could be implemented in a way to have a disparate impact on communities of color. Bread is also concerned that the final legislation did not make all sentencing reforms retroactive.

“The risk assessment tool must account for existing racial and gender disparities in the criminal justice system,” said Marlysa D. Gamblin, domestic advisor for policy and programs, specific populations at Bread for the World Institute. “We look forward to working with lawmakers and the independent commission to help assist in applying a racial and gender equity lens in the design and implementation of the risk assessment tool to avoid disparate impact on men and women of color.”

Jesus says in Luke 10:27, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…and your neighbor as yourself.” When we understand the value and worth of our neighbors and ourselves, we will promote policies that emulate the justice of God’s kingdom.

from our Resource Library

For Education

  • Election Resources

    One of the best times to raise the issues of hunger and poverty is during election campaigns. Engage candidates in your state/district on hunger and poverty using our elections resources.
  • U.S. Hunger and Poverty State Fact Sheets

    These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C. 

  • Conflict and Fragility Are Hunger Issues

    Conflict is a main driver of the recent increase in hunger around the world and of forced migration. Hunger also contributes to conflict.

For Faith

  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.

    The Bible on...

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

For Advocacy


African at Heart

November 22, 2019


From the Blog