WASHINGTON, DC – The Justice Department will begin releasing thousands of federal prisoners this week on “time credits” as part of a rule change signed by President Donald Trump in 2018.
New Rule Makes Thousands of Federal Inmates Eligible for Earned Release Credit in the First Step Act. DOJ dragged its feet for over two years, but finally followed the law signed on Dec 21, 2018. Thousands who paid their debt to society will now be free. https://t.co/a8IP0CkEal
— Pat Nolan (@PatNolan4Justic) January 14, 2022
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Thursday that a new law has been submitted to the Federal Register. The move will allow prisons to begin applying the Time Credits program that was created in the First Step Act.
As part of those guidelines, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has begun transferring eligible inmates to supervised release programs, residential re-entry centers, or home confinement, according to the New York Times.
It remains clear how many inmates will be released. The department would only say that “thousands” of inmates are being affected.
Under the law, inmates are eligible to earn time credits; 10 to 15 days of credit for every 30 days they participate in prison programs to reduce recidivism. The programs range from anger management and drug treatment to educational, work, and social skills classes.
— Safe & Just Michigan (@safeandjustmi) January 13, 2022
The bipartisan law is intended to encourage inmates to participate in programs aimed at reducing recidivism, which could let them out of prison earlier. It also eases mandatory minimum sentences and gives judges more discretion in sentencing.
The law states:
“On December 21, 2018, President Trump signed into law the First Step Act (FSA) of 2018 (P.L. 115- 391).
The act was the culmination of a bi-partisan effort to improve criminal justice outcomes, as well as to reduce the size of the federal prison population while also creating mechanisms to maintain public safety…
“The Act amended 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b) so that federal inmates can earn up to 54 days of good time credit for every year of their imposed sentence rather than for every year of their sentence served.
For example, this change means that an offender sentenced to 10 years in prison and who earns the maximum good time credits each year will earn 540 days of credit.”
The finalization of the new law comes just weeks after Justice Department’s Inspector General determined the Bureau of Prisons had not applied the earned time credits to approximately 60,000 eligible federal inmates.
The announcement also followed the announcement that Michael Carvajal will resign from his position as director of the Bureau of Prisons.
Critics of the law claim the rule resulted in thousands of prisoners behind bars rather than being released.
Senators Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the panel’s top Republican, argued that the rule should be revised.
INMATES RELEASED: The “first step act” promised a path to an early return for mostly nonviolent offenders who complete programs that reduce the chance of committing the same crime. https://t.co/MFzbkQHQwE
— News12NJ (@News12NJ) January 14, 2022
The senators said the proposed rule deterred prisoners from participating in First Step Act programs and undercuts the effectiveness of the law. They said that it included limitations that were not part of the act, and penalties that were unduly harsh. They wrote in May:
“While losing hard-earned credits would be easy, the rule makes restoring credits too difficult.”
The New York Times reported that the Justice Action Network, a bipartisan criminal justice reform group, said that the new guidelines could result in the release of as many people as were freed immediately after passage of the First Step Act, which was more than 3,100.
The home confinement decision had already affected about 2,800 inmates. There are 157,596 federal inmates, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
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Man arrested again after being released early under “First Step Act”. It gives criminals lenient sentences.
March 9, 2020
CALDWELL COUNTY, NC – A man who was touted as one of the poster children for President Trump’s First Step Act, a means to offer those convicted of various non-violent crimes more lenient sentences, was arrested again last month.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
Local convicted felon released early under First Step Act back behind bars. https://t.co/I4yJIvstTr
— Michael Stolp (@StolpWSOC9) February 27, 2020
Troy Powell was arrested in February for being involved with what the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office described as a “major methamphetamine distribution” operation.
The sheriff’s office noted that the alleged drug trafficking operation had been under surveillance for three months prior to the February arrests.
Of the narcotics recovered during the bust, the North Carolina State Drug Guidelines said the seized meth carried an estimated street value of $291,300.
Three other suspects were arrested for their alleged involvement of the methamphetamine operation. They were 44-year old Jeremy Matthew Magnus, 33-year-old Angela Marie Dale, and 35-year-old Heather Nicole Swanson.
Powell, as well as the other suspects involved in the drug ring, were transferred over to the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office and are in custody under a $500,000 secured bond each.
What could be the most frustrating aspect in all this was the second chance that Powell was afforded last year in April.
Not only did he benefit from an early release due to the bi-partisan passing of the First Step Act, he was invited to Washington, D.C. by Trump himself and was honored by the president.
Powell was twenty-six years old when he began a 20-year sentence for conspiracy to sell crack. Of that twenty years, he served fifteen years and six months before being granted an early release under the First Step Act.
Troy Powell was released from prison two months after the First Step Act became law, and was immediately hired by Boone Lumber Company, where he still works. pic.twitter.com/onrvo3Hsvh
— #cut50 (@cut_50) June 13, 2019
Thanks to the legislation of the FSA, certain cases were reviewed with regard to their sentences to see if there might be instances where the punishment doesn’t quite fit the crime.
Whether one agrees with the spirit of the FSA, there’s literally cases when people murder others and get less than twenty years in prison for numerous reasons. Hence, the existence of those sentences prompted a balancing of the proverbial scales.
During the press conference in April of 2019, President Trump made mention of Powell’s case while being ecstatic of the FSA:
“One of these newly freed Americans is Troy Powell, who is with us today. In 2004, Troy was sentenced to 20 years for doing a drug offense.”
The passing of the act afforded second chances for over 3,000 prisoners, casting aside the three-strikes life-sentencing provision for some offenses and modifying mandatory minimums.
Of all the people that could have possibly screwed up their second chance, it had to be the one guy Trump touted as a success story that winds up getting rearrested.
Both Republicans and Democrats applauded the First Step Act, which was heralded as the most significant action taken in pursuit of criminal justice reform in years.
Since the #FirstStepAct was signed into law, we’ve seen communities restored, hope renewed, and families reunited.
This legislation is a measure of mercy that should serve as a guide toward potential future reforms. pic.twitter.com/1h5T8NhsMz
— Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) March 5, 2020
This instance involving Powell, assuming he gets convicted of the new charges, would serve as a fodder for criticism against Trump’s efforts to create legislation that appeases both of the major parties.
Despite the caveats that the FSA has, at least it doesn’t come close to the nonsense perpetuated by bail reform in places like New York and Chicago.
Last week, a woman committed three separate attacks on Chicago’s Red Line train.
Tatyona Davis is 19-years-old. At the time of the attacks, Davis was free despite having been arrested for several other incidents, including robbery.
I’m sure you can guess why she was free.
Yep. Bail reform.
Davis was free because she was released without bail, on her own recognizance, for the previous cases.
There are a lot of incidents involved here, but stick with me.
On February 24th, Davis was on the Red Line when she and a minor started throwing food at a sleeping man. When a witness attempted to intervene, Davis and the minor sprayed the good Samaritan with pepper spray.
The pepper spray victim identified the two when police tracked them down at a McDonald’s outside the Red Line train station.
— Milo™ (@chasbottom) March 5, 2020
Prosecutors charged the minor with battery, but declined charging Davis pending further investigation.
That didn’t stop prosecutors, however, from charging Davis for two other incidents.
The first was an attempted robbery and aggravated battery from February 23rd.
A 20-year-old woman was on an escalator at the Red Line station when someone came up behind her, sprayed her with pepper spray, and attempted to steal her bag. The suspect began yelling for help, allegedly to confuse onlookers into thinking the suspect was actually the victim.
The suspect (later identified as Davis) pulled out a “long, shiny object” and proceeded to stab the victim in her chest. This caused a puncture wound which sent her to the hospital.
Davis and ran out of the station, without the bag, and police were unable to locate her.
Davis was also charged with battery for a different incident on February 21st. At that time, a woman said she saw two females acting “rowdy.”
The woman went up the escalator and felt someone reaching in her pocket. She turned around and saw the two “rowdy” females behind her. The females turned around and ran down the escalator (the wrong way) with the victim’s phone.
The victim chased the females and told them to drop her phone, which they did. When the victim tried to pick up her phone, one of the females pepper sprayed her and punched her in the face.
Bail Reform in Chicago Appears to Have Increased Crime https://t.co/GeQjqi4LXc You don't say?
— Mark Krikorian (@MarkSKrikorian) February 19, 2020
Finally, Davis is in jail with bail set at $50,000. Judge Mary Marubio also ordered Davis to go onto electronic monitoring should she post bond.
Prior to these incidents, Davis allegedly attempted to rob a grocery store called Jewel-Osco. When an employee attempted to stop her from shoplifting a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, Davis lunged at him and brandished a kitchen knife and pepper-spray.
During her arrest, police recovered a 6-inch kitchen knife, a 3-inch paring knife, and pepper-spray from Davis.
Jussie Smollett Case Looms Over Campaign for Chicago’s Top Prosecutor, Kim Foxx.
Gun violence, shoplifting, marijuana laws and bail reform are major issues, but focus is on incumbent’s handling of ‘Empire’ actor’s case.https://t.co/mtjNkJUcx7
— Lawyerforlaws (@lawyer4laws) March 7, 2020
Records show Davis was charged with felony armed robbery, misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, and misdemeanor retail theft in that case.
The other incident for while Davis was released on her own recognizance occurred on Jan. 14th at a Target store. Davis stole $789 worth of clothing at that time. Illinois’ felony threshold for theft is $300. Despite the value of Davis’ theft that day, prosecutors refused to charge her with felony theft.
Davis was charged with misdemeanor retail theft in that incident.
So, clearly the bail reforms are working out pretty well for Chicago.
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