A.G. William Barr, Sens. Graham, Scott laud First Step Act during Edgefield prison visit

EDGEFIELD — U.S. Attorney General William Barr spent Monday in South Carolina, first traveling to Columbia and then to Edgefield, ultimately praising a law that aims to reform the country’s criminal justice system.

Barr had breakfast with law enforcement at the University of South Carolina, an event hosted by U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon. The conversation there touched on violent crime and the opioid epidemic, according to a related announcement from the Department of Justice.

That afternoon, Barr spent time at FCI Edgefield, a medium-security prison about 30 minutes northwest of Aiken and home to about 2,000 inmates.

The attorney general was accompanied by U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, both South Carolina Republicans.

Their shared visit was tied to the First Step Act, which was signed by President Donald Trump late last year.

Graham described the First Step Act as “probably the biggest change in federal sentencing” in more than a decade. Scott expects the First Step Act to be a “monumental step in the right direction” in terms of recidivism reduction.

Barr, standing in the FCI Edgefield parking lot between Graham and Scott, lauded the senators’ leadership as it related to the First Step Act and later applauded the prison’s programming.

“All our facilities, obviously, have these kinds of programs, and I don’t mean to say that this is the only facility that is functioning in this respect,” the 85th attorney general said. “But this is a facility that, as I say, has some model programs and some innovative programs.”

“So, we’ve learned a lot today,” he said.

A number of people at FCI Edgefield will be released in July as a result of the First Step Act, according to Barr.

“This is a big day for this community here,” Graham said separately. He continued, “This is a big deal for the criminal justice system at the federal level.”