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What the First Step Act Means for Federal Prisoners

By Todd Bussert

On Dec. 21, 2018, the FIRST STEP Act (“the Act”) was signed into law.1 Although the full import of this federal reform legislation remains an open question, it directly impacts the accused and sentenced prisoners in myriad ways. This article addresses Bureau of Prisons-related aspects of the new law, including changes to the time credit calculus, avenues by which prisoners can earn both earlier pre-release (halfway house/home confinement) transfers and discharges to supervised release, as well as a clearer avenue to petition courts for reductions in sentence based on extraordinary and compelling reasons and an initiative for elderly and terminally ill prisoners that facilitates extended home confinement placements. Despite many encouraging aspects of the Act, which run counter to the Department of Justice’s retrograde practices the past two years, there is reason to doubt that some of its more progressive provisions will be timely realized.

Good Time Credit — 15% Means 15%

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