‘First Step’ Error Prevents Federal Inmates’ Release

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Federal prisoners who were expecting release for good behavior under the First Step Act must keep waiting because of an error in the statute, Reuters reports. Potentially thousands of inmates could be affected by the error in the law signed Dec. 21 by President Trump. The law requires the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to recalculate good behavior credits, a step expected to reduce some inmates’ sentences by as many as 54 days per year. Previously, inmates could only earn up to 47 days per year toward early release for good behavior.

Advocates expected the bill’s enactment meant that several thousand inmates would get their freedom in time for the 2018 holiday season. A drafting error prevented the Justice Department from immediately applying the new method of calculating good-behavior credits. “It’s a frustrating mistake,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM). Activists said the law confused good-behavior credits, which reduce a sentence, with earned-time credits, which do not. Earned-time credits allow certain inmates to qualify for early transfer to halfway houses. The law mistakenly said that new rules on good-behavior credits could not kick in until BOP finishes a risk-assessment process for deciding which inmates can get earned-time credits. Last week, a federal judge in Chicago denied a prisoner’s request to be released earlier for good behavior, citing the law. “This court is not unsympathetic to the apparent inequity of petitioner’s situation,” wrote U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman. “This court, however, is obligated to apply the law as it is written.” Advocates said the White House is seeking a way to fix the mistake.

One thought on “‘First Step’ Error Prevents Federal Inmates’ Release

  1. 2 prisoners have been released under the First Step Act to date; it is clear the BOP is very busy.
    Are inmates being prepared for said early releases now or after July 19th.?
    Salaries are paid to BOP employees for their heavy work load and the release of 2 prisoners. How many more BOP employees will be needed at the current slow pace?
    The inmates that are in this category number 4,300. If the inmates are given the 7 days per month they have earned, and actually receive the seven days; some inmates should already be released’ State inmates are released as per current rules. Federal inmates are being discriminated against and their releases are not equal with State Inmates. The statistics show a definite disparity between a State Inmate & a Federal Inmate and projected release dates, for similar crimes, and the scales of justice are not always equal or fair.
    It is not fair that a Judge cannot be fired, lose their position, or be removed from the bench. Why should a Judge have a ‘forever’ position and the President of the United States doesn’t? Nothing is forever and a Judge’s position should not be forever either or The Presidents’ position should be forever.

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