Hey Everyone, I wanted to let you know that the piece of legislation known as the FIRST STEP ACT has passed both the House and Senate. The FIRST STEP Act is being hailed by some as “generational criminal justice reform.”
The criminal justice reforms in the FIRST STEP Act can be grouped into two basic types of reforms: Reforms affecting prisons themselves and reforms affecting sentencing.
Per NPR, these are the reforms that affect prisons:
-Provides more access to rehabilitation and training programs that are aimed at helping prepare prisoners for life after their release.
-Certain prisoners would be eligible for incentives if they participate, including credits that would allow them to spend up to a year of their sentences in facilities like halfway houses or at home under supervision.
-Makes it against the law to use restraints on pregnant inmates, unless they are an immediate threat to themselves or others or a flight risk.
Requires that prisoners be incarcerated no more than 500 miles from their primary residence.
Per NPR, these are the reforms that affect sentencing:
-Ends automatic life sentences under the three-strike penalty for drug felonies. Instead of life, a third strike would now be a mandatory 25-year sentence. The mandatory sentence for a second offense would be reduced to 15 years compared to 20 years now (this portion of the ACT is not retroactive).
-Expands the “safety valve” that allows judges to avoid imposing mandatory minimum sentences in certain cases.
-Addresses prisoners who were sentenced before laws were changed in 2010 to lessen disparities between the penalties for crack cocaine and powder cocaine. It would allow these prisoners to petition the courts to review their cases in light of the updated law.
With both the House of Representatives and the Senate approving the act, it now goes to the President’s Desk. President Trump has already voiced his approval for the measure.
I will be preparing an FAQ for the FIRST STEP Act as it stands shortly.
The law firm of Jeremy Gordon has been practicing federal criminal appeals and post-conviction law since 2012. We have had successful outcomes in more than 60 cases in the past three years. Our entire staff is committed to providing excellent service to our clients and their families. We encourage you to contact our office today to visit with us on how we might be able to help you or your loved one get the representation they deserve.