Some Believe the First Step Act Is Dangerous
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First Step Act: Who’s Set to Go Home Early from Prison in 2019?

First Step Act has brought changes to the federal prison system. The Feds are set to release about 53,000 inmates over the next 10 years starting in 2019. But who and where are they now?

According to the US Bureau of Prisons, there are about 180,000 federal inmates currently incarcerated. They will not say which facilities will be impacted by the First Step Act releases.

Some Believe the First Step Act Is Dangerous
Some Believe the First Step Act Is Dangerous. Image Source: The Hill

Who is Qualified for Early Release Under the First Step Act?

President Donald Trump signed for changes to be made to the treatment and rehabilitation of non-violent federal prisoners starting in 2019. Qualified inmates are those who have committed low-level drug offenses.

They can earn credit to be released early or serve the remainder of their sentences in home confinement or a halfway houses. They will have to participate in the plan’s anti-recidivism program such as:

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Those Who Do Not Qualify for First Step Act Early Releases

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO)doesn’t have data broken down by location. There are 120 federal prisons located across the country. First Step Act allows 4,000 and 6,000 current prisoners to immediately qualify for supervised release programs.

The CBO excluded various types of violent offenders from being able to participate. This includes those who used firearms in their crime

Minimum low-risk category is assessed by the law, but also by security conditions.

CBO Says First Step Will Save Taxpayer Dollars

The First Step Act plan will cost taxpayers around $346 million over the next 10 years. Released prisoners will be eligible for federal benefits, like health insurance and the SNAP benefits program.

This total doesn’t include the savings from fewer prison beds necessary for fewer inmates.

So, where are the savings?

According to the CBO’s data, reducing the federal prison population will allow for closure of three or four federal facilities by the end of those 10 years.

Texas, with its similar reform in 2007, has since closed eight of its state prisons. Will other states have the forethought to follow suit?

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First Step Act: Mental Health Federal Prisoners Not Included

Prison medical facilities aren’t among those to likely see a reduction of their populations in 2019. Some of the inmates there have special mental health needs that wouldn’t qualify them under the risk assessment of the bill.

The debate has been healthy on Capitol Hill over the type of prisoners would be eligible. Conservatives fought the plan with the belief that it didn’t take enough precautions to keep violent offenders from getting out.

Advocates, however, show how it’s been successful in:

  • Texas
  • Georgia
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina
  • Kentucky

Each of those states saw a significant reduction in crime on state levels after prison reforms that sent low-level non-violent offenders home from prisons.

Tiffany M Arnold
As a little girl Tiffany M Arnold displayed a creative spirit. She truly believes writing is her form of art to foster conversations that positively impact the world. Tiffany loves to express herself through stories that make you think beyond the pages, beyond the book and within yourself. She hopes, in every story there is a message for someone. Ms. Arnold currently reports prison news for PRN online.