Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW
How do you feel about the First Step Act?

First Prisoners Released Under First Step Act - What is It?

by Countable | Updated on 1.16.19

  • Some of the first eligible federal prisoners have been released under the First Step Act ― a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill signed into law by President Donald Trump in December 2018.
  • Among them was Matthew Charles, 52, who served 21 years of a 35 year sentence for selling crack cocaine. He completed college courses while in prison, faced no disciplinary action, and mentored other prisoners.
  • A federal district judge ordered Charles’s release, and federal prosecutors cited the First Step Act in explaining why they wouldn’t appeal the sentence reduction:
“Because Congress has now enacted a new law that does appear to make Charles legally eligible for a reduced sentence, the government does not object to the court exercising its discretion to reduce Charles’s sentence.”

What does the First Step Act do?

  • The bill offers low- and minimum-risk federal inmates who participate in recidivism reduction programs the opportunity to earn time credits toward prerelease custody or supervised release (like a halfway house or home confinement) at the end of their sentences.
  • Recidivism reduction programs could include vocational training, educational support, substance abuse treatment, mental healthcare, anger management courses, faith-based initiatives, or other proven, productive activities.
  • Inmates convicted of crimes like murder, rape, armed robbery. sexual offenses, aggravated domestic abuse, and terrorism would be ineligible for those programs.

What does it mean for the prison system?

  • The First Step Act is expected to reduce federal spending on incarceration over time, as prisoners will be released sooner. Roughly 2,500 federal inmates will be eligible for early release in the near future due to its provisions.
  • The federal prison system grew from roughly 188,000 inmates in 2005 to a peak of nearly 218,000 in 2012 before declining in the years since, as data from USAFacts shows.
  • A Federal Bureau of Prisons report from January 10, 2019 showed a population of 180,124 federal inmates. The Bureau’s average cost of incarceration per federal inmate was about $99 per day in FY2017 (or $36,299 per year).


— Eric Revell

(Video Credit: Countable / Elena Lacey)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(40)
  • Curtis
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    America has the biggest prison/jail population in the world. If inmates can prove they are no longer risks to the public, they should be given a chance instead of living off tax money. More people out in the world spending and making money the better.

    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
  • B.R.
    01/17/2019
    ···

    The program is worth a try. Hopefully the criteria remains the same and there is a tracking put in place to measure the outcome.

    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
  • KansasTamale
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Cotton is a glass half empty guy apparently. If these programs are instituted those who have been incarcerated will have the chance to get a real job & change their lives. The people being released are not traffickers. They were jailed for using or carrying drugs that in some cases were labeled illegal when there was no reason for that ie. marijuana.

    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
  • BeStrong
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Recidivism: A condition in which one is offered limited human dignity and a return to incarceration, mantra, “its good for business”, recidivism.

    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
  • Dicr
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    What is it? A step forward for the country.

    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
  • Mikael
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Finally an effort towards better of our relatively much obsolete and systemically ill criminal justice system...

    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
  • M
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Seems like a common sense law — help low-risk offenders spend their time in prison as a way of helping themselves. I would love to see that $36,000+ X 2500 ($90,000,000+/year of those 2500s’ time incarcerated) go towards education/college grants, etc. or universal free counseling and therapy.

    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
  • SamJenkins
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    I hope the act is successful but the key is reintegration of the felons into the community.

    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
  • SneakyPete
    01/17/2019
    ···

    I’m for the Mandates SetForth Under The “First Steps Law” Just as long as they do the time, as mandated by the “Law Of The Land”, and have demonstrated that they are repent for the crimes which they were sentenced. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👏🏻👍🏻👏🏻👍🏻..... 1*17*19.....

    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
  • Ray
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Let’s help them integrate in the society and give them a chance to stay out of prison for good.

    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
  • Caroline
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    We need to stop incarcerating people based on skin color, poverty level, nationality, etc. Our prison population is full of people who should never have been convicted, but were because racist bigot attitudes and false fear. The less people behind bars the workers there are paying taxes, instead of costing the taxpayers. Community service and worker retraining are better for rehabilitation than sitting in a jail.

    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
  • Ingrid
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    The First Step Act is a good first step. Further reform of sentencing needs to follow. Norway has stressed rehabilitation, helping underlying issues and training in ways to integrate productively back into society for non-violent offenders for a long time, with great success. We would do well to get out of our puritanical punishment mindset and continue to stress and refine real rehabilitation. The private prison industry will fight this, of course. But society will be the better for it.

    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
  • Mark
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Bout time!!

    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
  • ConflyktedPolitics
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Honestly think this is a great start. The world is changing, and so are its people. Time and time again we are seeing that rehabilitation reduces crime rates exponentially more than longer prison sentences. Whether or not you believed that system worked in the past, there is no denying its complete ineffectiveness in today's modern society.

    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
  • Wallace
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Trump can give the state of the union from the Oval Office. We do not need to put a substantial portion of our government at risk.

    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
  • Charlotte
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Criminal Justice Reform is long overdue, especially because of the way that the current system discriminates against POC and low-income people. However, this particular reform measure is one sleazy way to increase profits for those who are in the business of monitoring the early-released (think ankle bracelet monitoring, a business that the Koch brothers make money off of; gee, I wonder why they backed this bill).

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • Ahmed
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    We have over crowded prisons with prisoners getting extremely long sentences for petty crimes. Especially when persons of color are getting longer sentences for similar crimes than non persons of color

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • Joanne
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    People convicted of drug offenses should have a chance to redeem themselves.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • eliyak
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    First Step is right. End the destructive War on Drugs!

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • John
    Voted Happy
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Meanwhile Private Prisons are modern day Slave traders and their recidivism based business model puts us all at risk.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share