Justice Department Announces That Additional Federal Inmates May Qualify for Release Under First Step Act
According to statistics, the federal prison system holds more than seven times the number of inmates that it did in the 1980s, and more than 45 percent of everyone in them is serving time for a drug offense. Still, according to the latest reports, more than 2,200 inmates are set to be released from prison under the provisions of the First Step Act, which was signed into law last year and most notably adjusts mandatory minimum sentencing under some circumstances. According to the Department of Justice, thus far, approximately 1,100 people have been released, while 1,600 qualify for reduced sentences.
In addition to reducing (and, in some circumstances, eliminating) mandatory minimum sentencing and calling for some inmates who had been too harshly sentenced for certain non-violent drug crimes (mostly in the 1980s and early 1990s as part of the crackdown on the crack epidemic) to be released, the law also provided resources to inmates and expanded upon certain programs, such as compassionate elderly release and connections to employment/reintegration programs. In addition, the Department is now reportedly working on a risk assessment tool that may result in a number of additional federal prisoners being released early as well.
… While Others Face Deportation
Still, according to some reports, while a number of inmates may walk free, others may, instead, be deported. Approximately 750 alleged non-citizens are to be held for transfer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to face deportation, while statistics indicate that approximately 35,000 people of foreign or unknown origin makeup close to 20 percent of all federal prisoners. Those that have been convicted entirely on immigration offenses alone make up close to 30 percent. The number of people incarcerated for immigration-related offenses is reportedly five times what it was in 1996, and in 2018 alone, that was close to 24,000 people. Still, legally speaking, those detained by ICE, after being released from prison, are supposed to be released on bond.
Report Indicates That Thousands Are Being Held Illegally Beyond Their Release Dates
According to some reports, the Bureau of Prisons is still holding a number of inmates whose release dates should have been recalculated under the First Step Act—and those release dates have, meanwhile, come and gone.
Contact Our New York Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you have been arrested in connection with federal or state crimes in the state of New York, or have questions about adjusted release dates under the First Step Act, contact our experienced New York criminal defense attorneys at the office of Phillip J. Murphy for a free consultation to find out how we can help. It is possible that you or a loved one may be able to file a civil rights lawsuit.