The First Step Act and Why it is a Big DealAmy Sharp | September 3, 2019
In December 2018, President Trump signed off on the First Step Act Bill, and after multiple months of revisions and assessments, thousands of inmates were released from custody in July of 2019. This Act allows for rehabilitation in United States jails and prisons to have more reward. Historically in the United States, criminals have been locked away without reform or rehabilitation. For individuals that struggle with addiction, alcoholism, or homelessness, to be taken out of their toxic environment, locked up for a period of time, and then put back into that toxic environment does more harm than good. With the Step-Up Act, inmates are given chances to lessen their sentence in reward for participating in rehabilitative programs and good behavior.
This solves multiple issues that exist with our correctional system today. The most obvious of those being that it gives hope to those that need to better themselves but have had no opportunities to. It offers a way in for reformative programs to be inside facilities reaching out and offering resources to those that are on their way to being released. The Step Act also allows for reduced sentencing as well as early release contingent upon good behavior.
The Federal Government performs an assessment every couple of months that will take into account participation in reformation classes, good behavior, and criminal background. Once this is done, they put all of this data into an algorithm and determine the appropriate amount of time to be taken off of as sentence as a reward for the efforts of the individual to better themselves. This also helps to solve the issue of overcrowding by making more room for offenders with violent offenses. Offenders that may have petty crimes but that are sentenced to a large amount of time are able to work to lessen their sentence and when released, they are prepared with many resources to help them.
While this does not solve all of the problems with the correctional system, it is an incredible start to beginning to treat these individuals humanely by offering them a second chance. So many people in this world have made terrible mistakes as a result of their environment and influences. By offering them all of the resources to be successful when they are at their rock bottom, they are being given the ultimate fighting chance when they are released. Aside from resources they are given hope, and that speaks volumes.