US

First Step Act: Thousands of Inmates Released

By Miguel Moreno

The Department of Justice announced that over three thousand inmates will be released on July 19.

“And starting today at prisons around the country nearly thirty-one hundred inmates are being released from BP (Bureau of Prisons) custody due to the increase in good time credits applied to reduce their sentences under the first step act,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a press conference.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen speaks during a press conference at the Justice Department in Washington on July 19, 2019. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The First Step Act, a bipartisan push for prison reform, was passed last year with strong support from President Trump and Congress.

As a part of the law, sentences are to be recalculated retroactively after accounting for good behavior credit, credit that would only allow sentences to be reduced by 47 days per year before the bill.

Now they may be reduced by 54 days per year.

Wide Range of Inmates Released

“In terms of the range of people who have been released, the largest number are drug offenders, the second group are weapons and explosives and the third are sex offenders,” said Associate Deputy Attorney General Antoinette “Toni” Bacon. “But there’s a very wide range of people who are being released.”

To address the problem of recidivism, released prisoners who re-offend, every inmate will now be assessed for needs, as well as risks, every six months with a new tool called Prisoner Assessment Tool Targeting Estimated Risk or PATTERN.

The tool will determine the likelihood of an inmate’s recidivism, and every time they are assessed, they have a chance to lower their recidivism score.

Those with low scores are eligible for programs that upon completion give them earned credit time, which is used for early release into halfway houses.

And to support their needs, the Department said that it will put $75 million dollars toward educational and vocational programs for inmates.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this article.