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DeSantis Plans Anti-Crime Attack On Trump, Citing First Step Act

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has spent months beefing up a tough-on-crime image as he weighs a run for the White House, calling for stronger penalties against drug traffickers and using $5,000 bonuses to bolster law-enforcement recruitment to his state. DeSantis and his allies plan to use that image to draw a contrast with the Republican front-runner in the 2024 race, former President Trump. DeSantis sees the First Step Act, signed by Trump in 2018, as an area of weakness with his base. DeSantis has indicated that he would highlight it when the two men tussle for the Republican nomination, reports the New York Times. First Step reduced the sentences for thousands of prisoners.


DeSantis has privately suggested that Trump’s record on crime is one of several policy issues on which Trump is vulnerable to attacks from the right. Still, DeSantis voted for the initial House version of the First Step Act in May 2018, while still a congressman. He resigned and was not in the House to vote for the more expansive version of the sentencing reform bill that ultimately passed in December 2018. DeSantis has said nothing publicly to telegraph that he intends to directly hit Trump as soft on crime. Yet for months, he has been privately gearing up for such a contrast. In January, DeSantis announced legislative measures for the legislative session in Florida, which would toughen penalties against drug traffickers. “Other states endanger their citizens by making it easier to put criminals back on the street. Here, in Florida, we will continue to support and enact policies to protect our communities and keep Floridians safe,” DeSantis said. “Florida will remain the law-and-order state.” Trump is aware of his vulnerability on the crime issue After leaving office, he began trying to inoculate himself against attacks by promising an uncompromising law-and-order agenda, with especially harsh treatment of drug dealers.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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