5. Makes Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactive
The FIRST STEP Act would make retroactive the reforms of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine at the federal level.
The disparity was created by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 and effectively made it so that those caught possessing crack cocaine would be punished as if they had 100 times that amount in powder cocaine form.
Although the law was passed in 2010, inmates sentenced under the old guidelines prior to the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act are still carrying out their sentences even though people convicted of the same crime today are not subject to those types of sentences.
The disparity has negatively affected African-American communities because of the prevalence of crack cocaine in those communities.
According to The Marshall Project, the bill’s passage would immediately impact 2,600 federal prisoners who would still have to petition for release and go before a judge before they could be released.
Other notable facts about the bill:
-The bill would require the Bureau of Prisons to follow policy by keeping prisoners within 500 miles driving distance of their families and homes.
-The bill would require the Bureau of Prisons to assess inmates for the appropriate rehabilitative services they should participate in before they are released.
-The bill would also fix wording in current law to ensure that prisoners can be granted 54 days off their sentences each year for good behavior. Because of the BOP’s interpretation of the current legal statute, inmates are only granted about 47 days off their sentence each year. According to The Marshall Project, a “good time credit” fix would be retroactive and could result in the release of 4,000 prisoners.
-The bill would ban the shackling of pregnant federal prisoners in labor. Activists have warned that while such a practice might seem egregious, it is still happening in many of America’s prison systems.