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October 16, 2019

Some FIRST STEP Act basics for Friday's lunch and future use

The FIRST STEP Act, which is fully titled the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act, was signed by President Donald Trump into law on December 21, 2018. Many have rightly called this law the biggest federal criminal justice reform legislation in a generation, and yet others have rightly called this law a very small modification of the federal criminal justice system. Among the good question to reflect on is whether the FIRST STEP Act is a big deal or much ado about very little.

Because lots of disparate provisions got rolled into the FIRST STEP Act, it is hard to readily summarize all its elements. The Congressional Research Service produced this intricate 20-page overview of Act, which is initially summarized this way:

The act has three major components: (1) correctional reform via the establishment of a risk and needs assessment system at the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), (2) sentencing reform via changes to penalties for some federal offenses, and (3) the reauthorization of the Second Chance Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-199). The act also contains a series of other criminal justice-related provisions.

The advocacy group FAMM has this webpage about the Act, which includes these general (multi-page) summaries:

FAQ: First Step Act

FAQ: First Step Act Risk and Needs Assessment

Read a full description of the bill here

The federal Bureau of Prisons and the National Institute of Justice also have useful webpages about the FIRST STEP Act, and their pages provide a particular focus on the work these agencies are doing under the Act (aka "Who sentences").

October 16, 2019 in Class activities, Working on white papers | Permalink


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