News Release

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. Because of provisions in the law, more than 3,000 incarcerated individuals have been released, and more than 2,000 had their sentences reduced.

While that start is promising, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has studied the implementation process and has identified a need to provide additional resources to make the Act’s promise a reality for all individuals who are eligible for relief. To provide those resources, NACDL has launched the NACDL First Step Act Resource Center, made possible by support from the Charles Koch Foundation.

“NACDL is proud to partner with the Charles Koch Foundation to support and mobilize the nation’s criminal defense bar to help secure relief for thousands of individuals through the NACDL First Step Act Resource Center. This project is central to NACDL’s core mission and will help to fulfill the goals of the Act and provide life-changing opportunities to those individuals who secure relief,” said NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer. “NACDL is uniquely positioned to provide what eligible individuals require most under the First Step Act – access to trained and resourced counsel to make their case.”

“The passage of the First Step Act marked an important moment in our society because it highlights an overwhelming shift in America’s willingness to provide second chances to those involved with the justice system,” said Ryan Stowers, executive director of the Charles Koch Foundation. “We’re proud to partner with NACDL on the First Step Act Resource Center that will allow for us to harness the current momentum and push our society in a more positive direction where each individual is treated with human dignity and given an opportunity to realize their full potential.”

The First Step Act Resource Center provides lawyers and incarcerated individuals with necessary resources by compiling relevant materials and developing and conducting training programs and support webinars for the federal criminal defense bar. It also recruits volunteer attorneys around the country and trains them to effectively represent individuals pro bono who otherwise would not have access to counsel. The Center will also work with other interested groups to monitor implementation of the Act by the Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons and will consult with experts to ensure consistency with the Act’s intent, as well as to pursue litigation or other responses to any serious failures that may arise. 

“Consistent with what was known when the First Step Act was passed a year ago, this work is ongoing and just a few steps down a long path of reform. NACDL expects the project to grow as necessary in the future and looks forward to many more steps toward reform with support from the NACDL First Step Act Resource Center,” NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer added.

If you seek assistance from NACDL’s First Step Act Resource Center or you are a lawyer who would like to volunteer, please contact NACDL Associate Executive Director for Policy Kyle O’Dowd at

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Ivan Dominguez, NACDL Senior Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 465-7662 or 

Lucia Weathers, Charles Koch Institute & Foundation Director of Communications, (571) 447-6894 or 


The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

The Charles Koch Foundation partners with social entrepreneurs in education, connecting them with the support to re-imagine and radically expand how we think and act about possibilities in education. The Foundation supports partners across the country who inspire students, push beyond the conventional boundaries with exceptional new programs, research, and advance knowledge that can revolutionize the way society’s biggest challenges are addressed.