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DOJ Announces Release Of 3,000 Prisoners As FIRST STEP Act Goes Into Effect

The law eases mandatory minimum sentences, reduces sentencing guidelines for felony drug offenses, and allows the early release of some non-violent inmates.


Over 3,000 prisoners currently in federal custody will be released as last year’s major criminal justice reform bill is implemented, the Department of Justice announced on Friday.

The FIRST STEP Act, signed into law by President Trump in 2018, eases mandatory minimum sentences, reducing sentencing guidelines for felony drug offenses to 15 years from 20. July will see the largest group of inmates freed thanks to the “good time credits” clause, which rewards well-behaved prisoners with shorter sentences. The bill also funds job training and re-entry programming.

The DOJ also announced 1,691 sentence reductions thanks to the bill’s retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduces, “the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine threshold amounts triggering mandatory minimum sentences.”

“Every day of freedom is important. The good time credit will benefit more than 150,000 people in federal prison today and many more going forward,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM). “We’re happy for the families who get to welcome home their loved ones a few weeks or months early.”

Attorney General William Barr said communities are safer when offenders are better prepared for the transition to life after incarceration.

“The Department is committed to and has been working towards full implementation of the First Step Act, which will help us effectively deploy resources to help reduce risk, recidivism, and crime,” Barr said in a statement.

Kim Kardashian West, who successfully lobbied President Trump to free Alice Johnson, an elderly woman who was serving a life sentence for a non-violent drug offense, announced a partnership with the rideshare company Lyft to provide recently released inmates to get to and from job interviews.

“I just want to thank the president for really standing behind this issue and seeing the compassion that he’s had for criminal justice has been really remarkable,” said West at a Second Chance Hiring and Re-entry White House event in June.