The First Step Act is the most meaningful prison-reform legislation that has passed since President Clinton signed the Anti-Terrorism and Death Penalty Act, back in 1996. It applies to all people in federal prison.
President Trump signed the First Step Act into law in December 2018. The First Step Act incentivizes people in federal prison to work toward law-abiding, contributing lives in prison and beyond. Everyone in federal prison will benefit from this new law. The First Step Act allows people in federal prison to work toward higher levels of liberty in objective ways.
The big plus of the First Step Act is that it offers opportunities for people in prison to earn “Time Credit” in exchange for participating in positive programs.
Time Credit differs from “Good Time.”
All people in federal prison receive “Good Time” as long as they do not receive disciplinary sanctions that result in the loss of those good time credits. By earning maximum Good Time credits, a federal prisoner can lessen his or her prison sentence by up to 54 days per year.
The First Step Act resulted in a positive change with Good Time. Prior to the First Step Act, the Bureau of Prisons would grant approximately 47 days of good time per year.
People in federal prison do not have to do anything particularly “good” to receive the Good Time. They simply have to avoid problems that could lead to disciplinary infractions.
The First Step Act and Time Credit
With Time Credit, on the other hand, a federal prisoner can work in methodical ways to improve his quality of life in prison. With the First Step Act, all people in federal prison can now earn privileges that include:
- More access to telephone time
- More access to email systems
- Higher spending limits in the commissary
- Opportunities to transfer to prisons that are closer to home
- Opportunities to transfer into preferred housing units
- Opportunities to receive maximum placement in community confinement centers and home confinement.
- Opportunities to learn new skills that will translate into success upon release.
We will describe other benefits of The First Step Act in future articles and videos.
By participating in positive programming, successful prisoners will earn between 10 and 15 days of Time Credit every 30 days. In contrast to “Good Time” however, Time Credit does not result in time coming off of the sentence. Rather, Time Credit allows people to work toward higher levels of liberty. Rather than serving their time in federal prison, they may serve their sentence while on home confinement.
The super cool benefit of the First Step Act is that Time Credit works in addition to Good Time and any other incentives, like the Second Chance Act and the Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program (RDAP).
Our team at PrisonProfessors.com will publish a series of articles and videos to help our audience learn more about the First Step Act. We’re actively involved in helping others get the best possible outcome from the criminal justice system. Contact our team today to learn more.