Changes could affect thousands of federal prisoners’ eligibility
New guidelines make federal prisoners eligible for release provides for the transfer of prisoners to supervised release programs, residential re-entry centers, or home confinement, reported the New York Times. The change codifies the guidelines that carry out the First Step Act, which is reform legislation from the Trump administration.
The First Step Act gave the Bureau of Prisons and the Justice Department leeway on whether to apply program credits earned before the passing of the act. Previously, only credits completed after January 15, 2020, applied. New guidelines allow application of credits earned as far back as December 21, 2018, a decision made by former Attorney General Barr.
Critics said that former guidelines did not accurately reflect the intent of bill. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) pressed for a rule revision, asserting the previous policy deterred prisoners from participating in the First Step Act, which undercut the effectiveness of the law.
Although the article does not state a number of eligible inmates, it says that it would affect “thousands.” Justice Action Network, a criminal justice reform group, estimates the number to be more than 3,100 freed, in addition to 2,800 already released to home confinement. The federal prison system has a population of 157,596, said the Times.