The Republican Party champions individual liberty and limited (i.e., constitutional) government, and that's why it champions criminal justice reform. In 2019, President Donald Trump spoke at the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum in Columbia, S.C., hailing the passage of the First Step Act, legislation that provides for programs to support federal prisoners reentering society.
In a piece for National Review, published in November 2019, Senator Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah and one of the First Step Act’s leading advocates, neatly made the conservative case for the bill and for federal-level criminal-justice reform. “Unlike some reformers, I don’t think our justice system is fundamentally broken, unjust, or corrupt,” Lee wrote. “I know from experience that dangerous criminals exist—individuals who are incapable of or uninterested in rehabilitation and change. . . . But my time as a prosecutor also tells me that not every criminal is dangerous or incapable of living a productive life,” he wrote. “My faith as a Christian teaches me that many people are capable of redemption. And my instincts as a conservative make me believe that the government can be reformed to work better.”
For this reason, I authored a bill that was signed into law by the governor that expunged non-violent criminal records when a juvenile turns 17. Many young people have been discriminated against in employment, educational opportunities, and enlistment in the military service because of having a juvenile-court record, and passing this bill will help them make a fresh start.