Criminal Justice Reform and the First Step Act

Criminal Justice Reform and the First Step Act

Criminal justice reform has become a common refrain for politicians across the political spectrum. For many years, individuals pointed out the problems with police and prisons but did little to change them. The criminal justice bill passed last Congress may serve as a pivotal moment for this movement. Instead of proposing ideas or reforms, this law actually starts to change the material lives of millions of Americans for the better.

Criminal Justice Reform

Prison, sentencing, and police reform is an effort to change the way that crimes are treated and punished in the United States. Many aspects of the criminal justice system have been targeted and challenged by this program. There are reformers who want to change the bail bonds process.

This concept applies to the criminal justice system as soon as an individual is arrested. They want to modify who is arrested, how bail is determined, and how bail can be paid. Reformers also want to change how sentences are handed down and enforced. Many individuals who prioritize sentencing reform want to make sure that people convicted of crimes are not subject to mandatory minimum sentences or three-strike laws. Critics argue that these factors increase recidivism and lead to massive prison sentences for relatively minor crimes.

They want to reduce the impact that a conviction has on a person’s life and career. In addition to sentencing reform and training and rehabilitation programs, reformers are also trying to make the federal prison system more humane. They are currently pushing for more work release programs, longer paroles, and alternatives to the federal prison system. For people who are in the prison system, reformers want better good behavior credits and more funding to prevent abuse by other prisoners and prison employees.

The First Step Act

The First Step Act, or H.R. 5682 115th, is a recently passed criminal justice bill designed to deal with many aspects of prison reform. Instead of training and rehabilitation programs or other aspects of reform, this law mainly changes the way the prison system treats women and the gravely ill. It improves sentencing disparities and changes the impact of a number of sentencing laws. H.R. 5682 115th also improves the application of time served and good behavior credits. It increases the number of these credits that a prisoner can receive every year. This prospect could lead to months or even years being taken off of an individual’s considerable sentence. It decreases the chances of recidivism and gives every prisoner a greater incentive to serve as a model prisoner.

What to do

Anyone who may benefit from these reform policies needs to contact a local attorney as soon as possible. Attorneys will be able to recommend individuals to specialists who have years of experience in navigating new laws and procedures. They have already become well-versed in the workings of this take on the Fair Sentencing Act. Therefore, they will be able to implement its programs and figure out prisons’ policies surrounding implementation and enforcement. If the tenets of the Fair Sentencing Act are not being applied, an individual will have grounds for a lawsuit. They should contact an attorney to better understand their options and whether or not a lawsuit would be best for them. Those who qualify for a lawsuit can sometimes form a class and have a better chance of securing considerable money for damages.


Criminal justice reform is one of the most difficult problems in the American political system. There are still millions of people throughout the country who believe that longer sentences and no prison reform are the only forces that deter crime. The First Step Act is, as its name implies, only a small achievement in the fight for reform. A concerted effort will be required over the next few years to expand its protections in order to make the criminal justice system fairer to everyone.

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