NACDL seeks volunteers in historic pro bono effort to secure compassionate release for the most vulnerable federal prisoners.Learn More
NACDL and its members have long pressed to fix the unjustly severe federal sentencing regime, advocating for much more sweeping changes than are included in the First Step Act. Although the law does not go nearly as far as NACDL would like, it will benefit many inmates and has important implications for practitioners.
Resources Related to Provisions of the First Step Act
for Federal Criminal Law Practitioners:
Risk and Needs Assessment System/Earned Time Credits (Title I) Good Time Credit Updates (Title I, Section 102) Sentencing Reform Provisions Under the First Step Act (Title IV) Compassionate Release (Title VI, Section 603)
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In these members-only webinars, leading experts examine the intricacies of the First Step Act from sentencing implications and risk assessments to expanded mechanisms for early release.
Available to the public: Everything You Wanted To Know About Federal Compassionate Release (But Didn’t Know To Ask)
Contact First Step Act Resource Center Counsel & Project Director Beth Blackwood for questions or support.
Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
Death Investigation: Forensic Pathology in the Courtroom and Cause & Manner of Death (2022)
This unique program provides criminal defense lawyers with an accurate and clear overview of forensic pathology and the countless factors to consider in a death investigation and will methodically explain what happens during an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.
You'll uncover the different types of medicolegal death investigations, what to request from your MDI expert, quality benchmarks for accreditation and certification, guidelines and standards, common terminology and frequently asked questions.
The Psychology of Persuasion & Storytelling for Criminal Defense Lawyers
This Trial Resource Guide is a masterful collection of practical tips, techniques and strategies focused solely on using the arts and sciences of persuasion to improve your storytelling skills at trial.
You'll learn how to master the ability to communicate with juries, deliver powerful openings and closings, perform convincing cross-examinations, use effective courtroom choreography and non-verbal communication, identify and develop the optimal theme and theory for your case, and offer compelling arguments during mitigation and sentencing.
Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victims Cases (2022)
Defending charges of sexual assault and child abuse can be daunting — but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, NACDL identifies the hottest topics and most pressing issues when defending these cases, and brings-in nationally-renowned lawyers and experts to help you prepare for battle. This year’s 13th Annual Defending Sex Cases training program is our best yet; packed with topics and speakers you won’t want to miss!
Advocacy Supporting Implementation of the FIRST Step Act
Comments to USSC on Proposed Amendments to Guidelines, Policy Statements & Commentary (March 2023)
NACDL supports the Commission’s proposed amendment to §1B1.13, with some suggested modifications, and supports Option 3 to (b)(6). After reviewing the Commission’s recent hearings on this proposed amendment as well as the submitted written testimony, NACDL focuses its comments on proposals (b)(5), (b)(6), and (b)(4).
Comments to the USSC on Priorities for the 2023 Amendment Cycle (October 2022)
We respectfully submit the following comments on the Commission’s tentative priorities for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2023, with a particular focus on the implementation of the First Step Act of 2018. … In this current cycle, we welcome the Commission’s focus on the decarceration focus of the First Step Act, as well as all efforts to reduce the rate of incarceration in federal cases, the size and racial disparities of our federal incarcerated population, and the guideline rigidity that discourages or limits the recognition of each offender’s humanity and redemptive potential.
- Comments to DAG Monaco on Compassionate Release Waivers in Plea Negotiations (February 2022)
Amicus Briefs Filed by NACDL
- Two Steps Backward, First Step Forward
- Compassionate Release: NACDL and Partners Launch the COVID-19 Compassionate Release Clearinghouse
- From the President: Compassionate Release: The Nuts and Bolts
News Release ~ 01/13/2022
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Welcomes BOP Rule Allowing for the Release of Thousands Under the First Step Act – Washington, DC (Jan. 13, 2022) – Thousands will be released from federal prisons over the next weeks thanks to implementation of a rule created by the 2018 First Step Act. The rule, implemented today by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), allows incarcerated individuals to work toward home confinement or supervised release by completing approved Evidence-Based Recidivism Reduction (EBRR) Programs and Productive Activities (PAs).
News Release ~ 04/06/2020
FAMM, Washington Lawyers’ Committee, NACDL Launch Emergency Compassionate Release Effort-- In a massive pro bono effort, our groups are recruiting, training, and supporting lawyers who agree to represent individuals in federal prisons eligible for compassionate release and those at special risk due to COVID-19.
News Release ~ 12/19/2019
Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar and Charles Koch Foundation Mark the One-Year Anniversary of the First Step Act with the NACDL First Step Act Resource Center -- Washington, DC (Dec. 19, 2019) – Saturday, December 21, marks the one-year anniversary of the signing into law of the First Step Act, a landmark bipartisan criminal justice reform measure. The Act was passed as a first step toward addressing the problems related to overcriminalization and overincarceration in the federal criminal justice system.
News of Interest
- "The First Step Act released them from prison. Then the government tried to lock them back up.,"
- "Compassionate Release and the Pandemic: A Policy Failure?,"
- "Congress must act to correct flaws in the First Step Act,"