Sources: Inmate from Kiryas Joel could benefit from FIRST STEP Act

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KIRYAS JOEL -

 

The FIRST STEP Act, the criminal justice reform plan passed by an overwhelming margin in the Senate, was helped in part by fundraising in the Hasidic community.

Activist Yossi Gestetner says the community has an interest in reducing prison sentences for non-violent offenders.

"There are people in the Hasidic community as in other communities who run afoul of the law, and when that happens here it's felt wide and deep," he told News 12.

Gestetner says the bill, supported by President Donald Trump, would mainly benefit felons outside of the Hasidic community, like drug offenders.

But sources say religious leaders are hoping to free high-profile prisoners like Mordechai Samet, a Kiryas Joel man with 11 kids who's been behind bars for nearly two decades for using fake IDs to steal millions of dollars.

The bill would allow judges to use their discretion when imposing sentences for some non-violent offenders.

The bill now heads to the House. Speaker Paul Ryan has pledged to clear it for President Trump's signature as early as this week.

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