As discussed in this article, through the FIRST STEP Act Congress promulgated a mechanism by which prisoners will eventually be able to achieve both earlier pre-release transfers and placement on supervised release (i.e., reduction in sentence). Central to this initiative is development of a risk and needs assessment system. Yesterday, DOJ issued the Prisoner Assessment Tool Targeting Estimated Risk and Needs (“PATTERN”). Consistent with this press release, there is now a “45-day public study period” of PATTERN during which the public can submit comments to FirstStepAct@ojp.usdoj.gov.
As discussed in this article, the FIRST STEP Act gave effect to Congress’s intent that federal prisoners be eligible to earn good time credit amounting to 15 percent of the sentence imposed (54 days per year). Unfortunately, because the way the law was written, implementation of this change was delayed 210 days, until this past Friday. Not only has the (belated) change resulted in retroactive modification of prisoners’ projected release dates, as can be found via the Inmate Locator, but also approximately 3,100 prisoners were discharged immediately.
Of possible interest to federal prisoners, those subject to a term of federal imprisonment and their respective attorneys and loved ones is this article I recently wrote for NACDL’s The Champion regarding the FIRST STEP Act. Among the provisions of the new law that the article addresses are the incentivized rehabilitative programming-based earned credit system, changes to motions for reduction in sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) (also known as “compassionate release”) that increase prisoners’ access to the courts, and an initiative by which “elderly” and “terminally ill” prisoners can secure earlier transfers to home confinement.
The United States Sentencing Commission annually accepts public comments concerning its proposed priorities for the upcoming amendment year. Many organizations, such as the Commission’s Practitioners’ Advisory Group, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Federal Public and Community Defenders and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, regularly submit comments. So too does the Department of Justice (DOJ). From the DOJ’s most recent submission comes this: