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News Link • Criminal Justice System

Thousands Freed from Federal Prison by FIRST STEP Act Reforms

• https://reason.com, SCOTT SHACKFORD

There's good news on the criminal justice reform front today as the FIRST STEP Act of 2018 frees thousands more from federal prison.

The Department of Justice has announced some hard numbers showing who is benefiting from the federal sentencing reform bill. Some figures worth noting:

More than 3,100 federal prisoners will be released due to the increase in "good time" credits that inmates can earn as part of the act.

Nearly 1,700 federal prisoners have had their sentences retroactively reduced by a part of the law that decreases the disparity in sentencing between those convicted of crack cocaine crimes and those convicted of powder cocaine crimes.

The Justice Department has approved 51 "compassionate release" sentence reduction requests for elderly, sick, or disabled prisoners. This is an increase over 2018, where only 34 requests were approved. The FIRST STEP Act gave prisoners increased access to this option.

There had been concerns that the spending bills passed earlier this year did not include the $75 million per fiscal year that the bill wanted to spend on prison education, training, and re-entry programs. But the feds say they have figured out how to redirect $75 million of existing Justice Department money to fund these efforts for fiscal year 2019.

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