What Is the First Step Act?

The modern US federal prison system was designed to prevent individuals from recommitting crimes after their time was served. Unfortunately today’s criminal justice system is failing to achieve this goal. It can be extremely difficult for convicts to secure a successful career and a high quality of life, ultimately leading them to commit new offenses. Recidivism, or crimes committed after serving time for a previous criminal conviction, is the reality for countless US citizens.

The Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act – or First Step Act – is federal legislation designed to reform the prison system and reduce recidivism. It increased the number of good conduct time credits that prisoners receive from 47 days to 54 days per year. Many prisoners were released immediately following its passing in 2018. The federal prison system plans to see a multi-million dollar reduction in overall operation costs from the bill.

The First Step Act incentivizes rehabilitation and reinforces the initial purpose of the prison system. Proponents of the bill have stated that due to the overall reduction of operation costs, valuable programs for vocational education and the creation of hirable skills will be put in place. This could aid in assisting a convict’s transition into society.

Prison reform, which the First Step Act aims to achieve, will provide a myriad of changes for both the prisoners and their families. One of the most common struggles loved ones have when a family member is in prison is distance. The First Step Act will place prisoners no more than 500 miles from their family residence. In-person contact with relatives can be a highly effective way to aid a former prisoner’s integration into society. Unfortunately it is often challenging or impossible for families to make long trips to visit their loved ones.

The First Step Act is a step in the right direction for prison reform and a bettered society. The current criminal justice system has failed to rehabilitate current convicts and to lower the national crime rate. Changes made by this law may lower sentences, help reunite families, improve conditions for inmates, and create services and programs for better education and professional development.

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