New Federal Crime Bill Signed Into Law

Several years ago, Congress passed the First Step Act, a law that takes modest steps to reform the criminal justice system. The law was supported by groups on both sides of the aisle including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Republican-backed Right on Crime.

What Does the Law Do?

Overall the law makes federal sentencing less punitive. This could benefit individuals with mental illness and addiction issues. Important provisions of the First Step Act would:

  • Make retroactive the reforms of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 which reduced the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine sentences at the federal level. This will lead to thousands of people being released from prison on the day the law goes into effect.
  • Ease mandatory minimum sentences
  • Increase the cap for “good time” credits that inmates can earn to reduce their sentences
  • Allow inmates to get “earned time” credits for participating in vocational and rehabilitative programs. These credits would allow inmates to be released early into halfway houses or home confinement.
  • Force the Bureau of Prisons to place inmates in facilities within 500 miles of their loved ones which would help people maintain strong bonds with their families.
  • Improve the compassionate release program which allows terminally ill and elderly inmates come home
  • Ban the shackling of women who are pregnant in labor or post-partum
  • Provide women in prison with adequate feminine hygiene products for free.
  • Ban the practice of putting juveniles in solitary confinement
  • Increase funding for programming and classes
  • Reauthorize the Second Chance Act

Second Chance Act

The Second Chance Act is a law that supports state and local reentry programs aimed at reducing recidivism. It also helps provide people leaving prison with support services such as mental health care and substance abuse assistance. The Second Chance Act provides grants to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations to develop and implement programs to help incarcerated individuals successfully reintegrate into the community.
If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental illnesses. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.

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