Federal Criminal Justice Reform Bill – The First Step Act (H.R. 5682) – Aimed at Reducing Recidivism and Reforming Federal Sentencing Laws

The House of Representatives has introduced “The First Step Act” aimed at reducing the recidivism of federal prisoners and other criminal justice reforms. The Act was passed in the House and was passed to the Senate for review.

The First Step Act calls for the development of a risk and needs assessment system that will determine the recidivism risk of each prisoner as part of the intake process and classify each prisoner as having minimum, low, medium or high risk for recidivism. Based on this classification, prisoners will be assigned to an appropriate “evidence-based recidivism program.” The programs are meant to be tailored to the specific criminogenic needs of each prisoner so as to effectively lower each prisoner’s risk of recidivism.

Under the Act, prisoners with similar classifications are to be housed together and prisoners will be incentivized and rewarded for participation in the recidivism programs. These rewards include phone privileges and additional visiting time, time credits, and potential transfer to an institution closer to the prisoner’s release residence. Many prisoners serving sentences for serious and violent offenses are ineligible to participate in the program.

Other provisions of the Act include a prohibition on using restraints on prisoners during pregnancy and postpartum recovery (with exceptions); placement of prisoners close to families; home confinement for low risk prisoners; increasing the use of compassionate release; providing identification for returning citizens; and expanding inmate employment.

For the full text of the Act visit:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/5682/text

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