RICHMOND, Va. – AFP-Virginia celebrated the passage of the FIRST STEP Act, criminal justice reform legislation that will enhance public safety, save taxpayer dollars, and provide a second chance to hundreds of thousands of people who’ve paid their debt to society. The grassroots group thanked Representatives Robert Goodlatte and Bobby Scott for their unique roles in ensuring this bi-partisan legislation became law.
“We’re thankful to lawmakers for giving the gift of second chances and safer communities to Americans this holiday season,” said AFP-VA State Director JC Hernandez. “Representatives Goodlatte and Scott, in particular, were champions for the FIRST STEP Act, which is a crucial first step toward breaking the cycle of incarceration, bringing families together, and creating safer communities. It’s great to see our lawmakers end the year by coming together and passing meaningful legislation.”
The FIRST STEP Act requires the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to place inmates no more than 500 driving miles from home, helping spouses, parents, and children more practically visit their family members behind bars and making it easier for inmates to reintegrate into society upon release.
Fixes a mistake in federal law to ensure that all well-behaved prisoners not serving life sentences can accrue 54 days of “good time credit” off their sentences per year, instead of the 47 per year that 178,000 inmates currently receive.
Directs the BOP to let low-risk low-needs inmates serve home confinement for up to 6 months of the end of their sentences.
Retroactively applies the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity from 100:1 to 18:1, to current inmates sentenced before 2010.
Expands eligibility for the federal “safety valve” (18 U.S.C. § 3553(f)) to keep more low-level drug offenders from incurring mandatory minimums meant for high-level drug traffickers, creating more proportional punishments.