President Trump signs the First Step Act and the Juvenile Justice Reform Act on Friday in the Oval Office at the White House. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 21 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Friday signed legislation overhauling the country's criminal justice system.
At the signing event attended by members of Congress, criminal justice reform advocates, law enforcement officials and senior advisers, Trump thanked senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner for his work pushing the bill.
"Jared has worked so hard on this," the president said.
Kushner said he and others who worked on the legislation "were their lobbyists," speaking of those who stand to benefit from the First Step Act.
The law reforms several aspects of the U.S. criminal justice system, including allowing inmates to reduce sentences with an earned-time credit program. Judges also have more discretion, instead of mandatory minimum sentencing for some drug-related crimes. It boosts prisoner rehabilitation efforts in an effort to reduce recidivism rates, and life sentences for some drug offenders with three convictions, or "three strikes," will be cut to 25 years. In addition, the disparity in sentencing guidelines between crack and powder cocaine offenses will retroactively be reduced.
The legislation, which only affects federal crimes, cuts off a collective 53,000 years of sentences over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The House approved a different version of the legislation earlier this year and had to amend it to match the Senate version.
Trump has described the reform as "reasonable sentencing reforms while keeping dangerous and violent criminals off our streets."
During the ceremony, Trump also signed the Juvenile Justice Reform Act, legislation passed by Congress last week.
Allen Cone contributed to this report.