President Donald Trump recently signed into law a sweeping, bipartisan criminal justice reform bill. The First Step Act is designed to combat mass incarceration by overhauling sentencing requirements and giving those convicted of crimes a better shot at going straight on release through employment services program. As its name suggests, the legislation may be the first of more changes to come.
Here’s what the new law means for anyone in New York who has already been convicted of a federal drug crime or other offense.
Some of the reforms in the new law are retroactive.
For people convicted of federal drug crimes, that includes provisions eliminating the wide sentencing disparity between convictions for crimes involving crack cocaine and those for the powder form of the drug. A person seeking a reduced sentence based on the change has to petition a court.
The law also increases the amount of time a person can potentially get shaved of his or her prison sentence for good behavior. An inmate can get up 54 days of “good time credits”—up from 47 days—for every year behind bars. That may have made as many as 4,000 federal inmates newly eligible for release on the day the law was signed, according to one estimate.
Early releases vary on a case-by-case basis, which takes into account the seriousness of the crimes for which a person was convicted.
The new law also imposes certain restrictions on incarceration designed to make it easier for a person to return to society after doing time.
That includes requiring that federal inmates be held within 500 driving miles of their families or homes. The law also forces the federal government to offer inmates rehabilitative services and education and job training opportunities. Inmates can get up to 10 days in a halfway house for every 30 days they spend in a rehab program.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug or other crime in the Capital District, it is vital to seek the advice of an experienced Albany drug crime lawyer. A lawyer can help you weigh your options and start building the strongest possible defense, in some cases before you’ve even been charged with a crime.
James E. Tyner is an experienced attorney who has been representing clients in a wide range of criminal cases for more than a decade. Mr. Tyner has a strong track record of getting optimal results for the people that he represents. He is happy to serve clients in Albany, Schenectady, Latham and throughout the state. Contact us online or call 1-866-642-3807 to schedule a free consultation.