The First Step Act: All Your Questions Explained

On May 9, 2018, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bipartisan federal prison reform bill known as the First Step Act (H.R. 5682). The bill’s longer name is the “Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act.” The First Step Act was previously called the Prison Reform and Redemption Act.

Before the First Step Act can become law, it must be passed out of the House of Representatives and voted on in the Senate. Then the President must sign it.

The bill is expected to receive a floor vote in the House by the end of May 2018. The bill’s fate in the Senate remains promising, but some activists oppose the First Step Act because it does not include sentencing reforms.

first step act

First Step Act Federal Prison Reform

Here are key points about the First Step Act:

1. The First Step Act Requires The Development Of A Risk And Needs Assessment System

 Within 180 days after the First Step Act becomes law, the Attorney General is required to develop a “Risk and Needs Assessment System.” The system will gauge individual prisoner recidivism risk, and help Bureau of Prisons (BOP) staff decide which recidivism reduction programs individuals should participate in. After the system has been developed, the BOP has 180 days to begin implementation. Priority for program participation will be given to prisoners, at least initially, who are within two years of release.

All of the recidivism reduction programs contemplated by the First Step Act must be “evidence based.”

Further, the First Step Act allows the BOP to “use existing risk and needs assessment tools, as appropriate.” The BOP previously developed a risk and needs assessment tool called the “Inmate Skills Development System” (ISDS). But the BOP has been phasing out ISDS in anticipation of the rollout of “Insight,” a new program that “will enable institutions to better track an inmate’s progress in correctional programming and will allow subject matter experts to include feedback about the inmate.”1

I expect the BOP to likely use “Insight,” or whatever new name the BOP may give to that system, as the “Risk and Needs Assessment System” required by the First Step Act.

2. The First Step Act Provides Incentives For Prisoner Participation In Recidivism Reduction Programs

The First Step Act offers incentives to prisoners to participate in recidivism reduction programs.

Those incentives include:

“phone privileges, or, if available, video conferencing privileges, for up to 30 minutes per day, and up to 510 minutes per month”;

  • “additional time for visitation at the prison, as determined by the warden of the prison”;
  • “placement in a facility closer to the prisoner’s release residence” subject to the availability of bed space, the security level of the facility, and the Warden’s support for the requested transfer;
  • “Increased commissary spending limits and product offerings”;
  • “Extended opportunities to access the email system”;
  • “Consideration of transfer to preferred housing units (including transfer to different prison facilities)”;
  • “Other incentives solicited from prisoners and determined appropriate by the Director”

3. First Step Act Also Offers Prisoners The Opportunity To Spend Longer Amounts Of Time In Pre-Release Custody Through The Accumulation Of Time Credits

 Eligible prisoners who participate in “recidivism reduction programming” or “productive activities” can receive “time credits” that increase the amount of time a prisoner spends in pre-release custody in either a halfway house or on home confinement. The amount of time credits that can be earned under the First Step Act federal prison reform bill are as follows:

  • A prisoner shall earn 10 days of time credits for every 30 days of successful participation in evidence-based recidivism reduction programming or productive activities;
  • A prisoner determined by the Bureau of Prisons to be at a minimum or low risk for recidivating, who, over two consecutive assessments, has not increased their risk of recidivism, shall earn an additional 5 days of time credits for every 30 days of successful participation in evidence-based recidivism reduction programming or productive activities.

Programs taken before passage of the First Step Act do not qualify for time credits.

Once a prisoner has “been determined to be at minimum risk or low risk for recidivating pursuant to their last two reassessments,” the accumulated time credits may be used to transfer the prisoner to pre-release custody.

The Director of the BOP may only deny an eligible prisoner’s transfer to pre-release custody if the Warden “if the warden of the prison finds by clear and convincing evidence that the prisoner should not be transferred into prerelease custody based only on evidence of the prisoner’s actions after the conviction of such prisoner and not based on evidence from the underlying conviction, and submits a detailed written statement regarding such finding to the Director of the Bureau of Prisons.”

Pre-release custody may be spent on home confinement or in a Residential Reentry Center, more commonly known as a federal halfway house

4. The First Step Act Fixes The “54 Day” Problem With Federal Good Conduct Time

 In addition to allowing federal prisoners the opportunity to spend longer amounts of time in pre-release custody, the First Step Act federal prison reform fixes a longstanding problem with how federal good conduct time is calculated.

Under existing law, federal prisoners who maintain good conduct can receive a reduction equal to 47 days a year for each year of imprisonment that was imposed. The existing statute requires the BOP to award 54 days of good conduct time, but the BOP interprets the current statute as requiring prisoners to fully serve a year before earning the 54 days. The Supreme Court in Barber v. Thomas, 560 U.S. 474 (2010) upheld the BOP’s interpretation of the current good time law.

The First Step Act requires the BOP to award 54 days of good conduct time for each year of the sentence that was imposed. Thus, a ten year sentence would equal to 540 possible days of good conduct time.

In addition, the First Step Act changes the way prorated good conduct time is credited. Under the First Step Act, “credit for the last year of a term of imprisonment shall be credited on the first day of the last year of the term of imprisonment.”

These changes would apply immediately once the law is enacted. It is expected that 4,000 BOP prisoners would be subject to immediate release if the good time component of the law passes.

5. Non Citizens Can Participate In Recidivism Reduction Programs And Productive Activities Under the First Step Act

Prisoners subject to deportation are eligible to receive time credits that accelerate their release to pre-release custody, just like U.S. citizens. However, rather than being transferred to a halfway house or home confinement in the United States, prisoners facing deportation would be turned over to ICE for deportation.

6. The First Step Act Bars The Shackling Of Pregnant Prisoners

 The First Step Act also formally bars the BOP from generally using “restraints on prisoners during the period of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum recovery prohibited.”

7. The First Step Act Requires The BOP To Keep Prisoners Closer To Their Families

 The First Step Act federal prison reform also requires the BOP to keep prisoners closer to their family members. The law changes 18 U.S.C. 3621 by requiring the BOP to “designate the place of the prisoner’s imprisonment, and shall, subject to bed availability, the prisoner’s security designation, the prisoner’s programmatic needs, and the prisoner’s mental and medical health needs, place the prisoner in a facility as close as practicable to the prisoner’s primary residence, but, in any case, not more than 500 driving miles from the prisoner’s primary residence. Subject to bed availability and the prisoner’s security designation, the Bureau shall transfer prisoners to facilities that are closer to the prisoner’s primary residence even if the prisoner is already in a facility within 500 driving miles of that residence, unless the prisoner chooses to remain at his or her current facility.’’

8. The First Step Act Changes The Way Compassionate Release Requests Are Applied For

 Under existing law, only the Director of the BOP can move for a defendant’s release on compassionate release grounds. The First Step Act changes this by allowing prisoners to motion for compassionate release from the Court after exhausting administrative remedies. The motion may also be filed by the prisoner if the Warden fails to respond to a request for compassionate release within 30 days.

9. The First Step Act Requires The BOP To Assist Prisoners In Obtaining Identification

The First Step Act amends 18 U.S.C. 4042 by requiring the BOP to help prisoners obtain “obtain identification, including a social security card, driver’s license or other official photo identification, and a birth certificate.”

10. The First Step Act Expands Who UNICOR Can Sell To

 The First Step Act grants Federal Prison Industries, commonly known as UNICOR, wider authority to sell to different entities. This expanded authority is intended to create greater work opportunities for federal prisoners. The First Step Act further directs that at least 15 percent a prisoner’s UNICOR wages be held in a special fund for the prisoner’s use upon release.

11. Other Miscellaneous Changes

 The First Step Act also makes other changes, such as requiring the BOP to provide tampons and sanitary napkins to female prisoners at no cost. The bill also requires the BOP to pilot mentorship programs between young prisoners and members of the community, which may include formerly incarcerated persons.

12. The First Step Act Excludes A Wide Array Of Prisoners From Earning Pre-release Time Credits

 Unfortunately, the First Step Act excludes a large number of offenders from earning pre-release time credits. Any person serving a sentence for a violation of the following are excluded:

‘‘(i) Section 113(a)(1), relating to assault with intent to commit murder.

‘‘(ii) Section 115, relating to influencing, impeding, or retaliating against a Federal official by injuring a family member, except for a threat made in violation of that section.

‘‘(iii) Any section of chapter 10, relating to biological weapons.

‘‘(iv) Any section of chapter 11B, relating to chemical weapons.

‘‘(v) Section 351, relating to Congressional, Cabinet, and Supreme Court assassination, kidnapping, and assault.

‘‘(vi) Section 793, relating to gathering, transmitting, or losing defense information.

‘‘(vii) Section 794, relating to gathering or delivering defense information to aid a foreign government.

‘‘(viii) Any section of chapter 39, relating to explosives and other dangerous articles, except for section 836 (relating to the transportation of fireworks into a State prohibiting sale or use).

‘‘(ix) Section 842(p), relating to distribution of information relating to explosive, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction, but only if the conviction involved a weapon of mass destruction (as defined section 2332a(c)(2) of such title).

‘‘(x) Subsection (f)(3), (h), or (i) of section 844, relating to the use of fire or an explosive.

‘(xi) Section 924(e), relating to unlawful possession of a firearm by a person with 3 or more convictions for a violent felony.

‘(xii) Section 1030(a)(1), relating to fraud and related activity in connection with computers.

‘‘(xiii) Any section of chapter 51, relating to homicide, except for section 1112 (relating to manslaughter), 1113 (relating to attempt to commit murder or manslaughter, but only if the conviction was for an attempt to commit manslaughter), 1115 (relating to misconduct or neglect of ship officers), or 1122 (relating to protection against the human immunodeficiency virus).

‘‘(xiv) Any section of chapter 55, relating to kidnapping.

‘‘(xv) Any offense under chapter 77, relating to peonage, slavery and trafficking in persons, except for sections 1592 through 1596.

‘‘(xvi) Section 1751, relating to Presidential and Presidential staff assassination, kidnapping, and assault.

‘‘(xvii) Section 1841(a)(2)(C), relating to intentionally killing or attempting to kill an unborn child.

‘‘(xviii) Section 1992, relating to terrorist attacks and other violence against railroad carriers and against mass transportation systems on land, on water, or through the air.

‘‘(xix) Section 2113(e), relating to bank robbery resulting in death.

‘‘(xx) Section 2118(c)(2), relating to robberies and burglaries involving controlled substances resulting in death.

‘(xxi) Section 2119(3), relating to taking a motor vehicle (commonly referred to as ‘carjacking’) that results in death.

‘‘(xxii) Any section of chapter 105, relating to sabotage, except for section 2152.

‘‘(xxiii) Any section of chapter 109A, relating to sexual abuse, except that with regard to section 2244, only a conviction under subsection (c) of that section (relating to abusive sexual contact involving young children) shall make a prisoner ineligible under this subparagraph.

‘‘(xxiv) Section 2251, relating to the sexual exploitation of children.

‘‘(xxv) Section 2251A, relating to the selling or buying of children.

‘‘(xxvi) Any of paragraphs (1) through (3) of section 2252(a), relating to certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

‘‘(xxvii) A second or subsequent conviction   under   any of paragraph (1) through (6) of section 2252A(a), relating to certain activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography.

‘‘(xxviii) Section 2260, relating to the production of sexually explicit depictions of a minor for importation into the United States.

‘‘(xxix) Section 2283, relating to the transportation of explosive biological, chemical, or radioactive or nuclear materials.

‘‘(xxx) Section 2284, relating to the transportation of terrorists.

‘‘(xxxi) Section 2291, relating to the destruction of a vessel or maritime facility, but only if the conduct which led to the conviction involved a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

‘‘(xxxii) Any section of chapter 113B, relating to terrorism.

‘‘(xxxiii) Section 2340A, relating to torture.

‘‘(xxxiv) Section 2381, relating to treason.

‘‘(xxxv) Section 2442, relating to the recruitment or use of child soldiers.

‘‘(xxxvi) Section 57(b) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2077(b)), relating to the engagement or participation in the development or production of special nuclear material.

‘‘(xxxvii) Section 92 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2122), relating to prohibitions governing atomic weapons.

‘‘(xxxviii) Section 101 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2131), relating to the atomic energy license requirement.

‘‘(xxxix) Section 224 or 225 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2274, 2275), relating to the communication or receipt of restricted data.

‘‘(xl) Section 236 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2284), relating to the sabotage of nuclear facilities or fuel.

‘‘(xli) Section 60123(b) of title 49, United States Code, relating to damaging or destroying a pipeline facility, but only if the conduct which led to the conviction involved a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

‘‘(xlii) Section 401(a) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 841), relating to manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance, but only in the case of a conviction for an offense described in Subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of subsection (b)(1) of that section for which death or serious bodily injury resulted from the use of such substance.

‘‘(xliii) Section 276(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8.U.S.C. 1326), relating to the reentry of a removed alien, but only if  the  alien  is  described in paragraph  (1)  or  (2)  of  subsection  (b)   of that section.

‘‘(xliv) Any section of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App. 2401 et seq.)

‘‘(xlv) Section 206 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1705).

‘‘(xlvi) Section 601 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3121), relating to the protection of identities of certain United States undercover intelligence officers, agents, informants, and sources.

‘‘(xlvii) An offense described in section 3559(c)(2)(F), for which the offender was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than one year, if the offender has a previous conviction, for which the offender served a term of imprisonment of more than one year, for a Federal or State offense, by whatever designation and wherever committed, consisting of murder (as described in section 1111), voluntary manslaughter (as described in section 1112), assault with intent to commit murder (as described in section 113(a)), aggravated sexual abuse and sexual abuse (as described in sections 2241 and 2242), abusive sexual contact (as described in sections 2244(a)(1) and (a)(2)), kidnapping (as described in chapter 55), carjacking (as described in section 2119), arson (as described in section 844(f)(3), (h), or (i)), or terrorism (as described in chapter 113B).

Download Our First Step Act Guide

If you would like to download or print a copy of this, please click here: First Step Act Guide.

You can also read our First Step Act FAQ here.

About Brandon Sample

Brandon Sample is an attorney, author, and criminal justice reform activist. Brandon’s law practice is focused on federal criminal defense, federal appeals, federal post-conviction relief, federal civil rights litigation, federal administrative law, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).


  1. raymond watts on July 8, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    Brandon, thank you for the superb work you are doing. We contacted when I was at Jesup Satellite Low (Georgia), and I was working in the law library. I’m a paralegal, and doing well living in Georgia near Cartersville.

    • Brandon Sample on July 9, 2018 at 8:36 pm

      Thanks, Raymond. Glad that you are finally home and doing well!

  2. Curtis Burston on August 23, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Good evening,

    My name is Curtis Burston lll, my father name is Curtis Burston Jr, has been incarcerated since December 1st, 2004, on a 30 year sentence for one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams of cocaine base (Crack) and 500 grams of cocaine and one count of cocaine distribution, and using communication facility, a telephone, to facilitate a conspiracy and convicted of these charges on March 2nd, 2005. One day before my 10th birthday, I have done my research and looked into the First Step Act, I believe my father Curtis Burston Jr is a perfect candidate for this motion that is going on with the cocaine disparity. It would mean the world if someone, just someone looked into his case. My father has been granted suspended time off his 30 year sentence due to certain circumstances within his case and is to be released February 21st, 2023. My father and I have a close relationship and try to email and talk everyday and daily we discuss the steps he is going to take once he is able to earn a second chance at his life again. This is a man that has been incarcerated for almost 14 years now and has 100% learned his lesson and is more than willing to be contributing member to society. My father has full remorse for the choices he has made in the past and has taken the necessary steps to better himself to be the best man, husband and son he can be. My father has guided me to become the man I am today, with graduating high school, receiving my Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from East Carolina University, also playing Division 1 football for East Carolina University for 3 years. I have developed strong connections with current NFL players that I have spoke with that support my father such as Zay Jones (Buffalo Bills) and Zay Jones having connections with the Michael Jenkins Foundation that should have further knowledge on my fathers current situation.

    I would like to thank with great honor President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner that are currently behind the prison reform and very excited that our family is able to see light at the end of this tunnel, how family has been suffering for nearly 14 years without my father, best friend, mentor. This is an opportunity of a life time for a man that has let the Criminal Justice system do its work for the better and help my father be prepared for the day he is released back into society and understand the past is not his future.

    Thank you so much for your time!

    Curtis Burston Jr #24896-056
    Federal Medical Center
    F.M.C Devens
    P.O Box 879
    Ayer, MA 01432

    • Brandon Sample on August 26, 2018 at 12:58 pm


      The First Step Act has not been enacted yet, but there is serious discussion about the bill being voted on in November. I remain optimistic this bill will pass. I hope that it is able to help your father. We lock up too many people in this country, and for too long.

      • melanie on November 14, 2018 at 3:30 pm

        Does the First Step Act only help Federal Inmates. Does this Bill help inmates in State prisons, as well?

        • Christopher Zoukis on November 19, 2018 at 10:46 am

          Unfortunately, the First Step Act would only apply to federal inmates, not state inmates.

          • Peggy on November 24, 2018 at 12:03 pm

            Do you know why it does not apply to State prisoners? Do you know if there talk about possibility including State prisoners?

          • Brandon Sample on November 24, 2018 at 4:31 pm

            This particular bill is focused on the federal criminal justice system. Congress has no power to directly change state criminal justice laws.

    • Elizabeth Mayton on February 5, 2019 at 9:51 pm

      How do we apply this act to someone in prison? My son should be allowed to apply for this act can someone tell me where to get information to help an inmate…,

      • Linda Navarro on June 25, 2019 at 10:14 am

        Elizabeth if you have any results in answering your question can you please forward them, my son is in the same situation and would love to know where I can find answers to questions like yours. thank you so much!
        Sincerely: Linda Navarro
        email: [email protected]

  3. Marianne Matchette on November 17, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    I am looking at sentencing for Aggravated Identity Theft and Wire Fraud, does this line item, relate to my alleged charge?

    (xii) Section 1030(a)(1), relating to fraud and related activity in connection with computers.

    Thank you for your thorough research and explanation.

    • Christopher Zoukis on November 18, 2018 at 11:46 pm

      Maybe. While the First Step Act has not yet become law, certain provisions pertain to the majority of inmates (e.g., good conduct time provisions), while others pertain to those deemed lower risk. I would assume that you would qualify as the latter, though the bill is not yet finalized.

  4. Laurie Clowers on November 29, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    My brother has been locked up since 2014 for “virtual” drug possession. There was a raid at the location he was at and they detained him then serched his belongings. The feds saw a text message conversation stating he was going to “make a delivery of meth”. He is unfortuanately a repeat offender so they arrested him. My brother was asked how often he uses and how much does he use a day. They multiplied that times the amount of years he has been using and convicted him of 49 grams. During the trial the judge worded his conviciton as “over 49 grams” instead of “49 grams”. Either way, he had zero drugs on his body at the time of the arrest and is now serving 180 months for this bad decision. His crime was not a violent charge so why is he having to stay locked up for 15 years. I see where there have been murderers get less time than him. I know he is a good person that made very bad choices. He shouldnt have to be incarcerated for the maximum time of 180 months for virtual drug possession. I sit and watch the news daily hoping that this First Step Act passes the Senate so that my brother has a new chance at his life.
    Thank you to all that see that mistakes do happen and second chances can be given. Please cross your fingers that the bill passes.

    Clifton Clowers 45717-177
    FCI Texarkana
    P.O. BOX 7000
    TEXARKANA, TX 75505

    • Kevin on December 13, 2018 at 1:24 pm

      That is a sad story. Hope it works out well for Clifton. When he is finally released he needs to get the support he needs to stay the heck away from drugs for the rest of his life.

  5. Anonymous on December 19, 2018 at 12:18 am


    Thanks for the good work in breaking down the 113 pages. I have a question someone already asked since the bill was passed today do you know if it will in anyway help someone in federal prison who commit wire fraud and identity fraud who is going to be deported in 2020.


  6. ANN LEWIS on December 19, 2018 at 12:32 pm


  7. Esmi on December 19, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    i have a question , my ex husband was given a sentence of 20 years for intent to distribute 15 grams of cocaine. a firearm was found on the property. the DA used a charge from when he was 19 and they changed his sentence to the 20 , after he was told 10 years. does this law apply to him.

    • Brandon Sample on December 20, 2018 at 10:57 am

      We have put together a comprehensive analysis of the bill and encourage you to review this article to help you and your loved one determine his eligibility: First Step Act: Comprehensive Analysis

    • Dee Graziano on June 23, 2019 at 9:22 pm

      Does working for UNICOR being considered for an early release option

  8. ANISA JOINER on December 21, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    now that the president has signed the bill what do the inmates who qualify need to do. is there a list of those who qualify already ready to release them or do they need to get a lawyer and apply to be released. what are the steps the inmates need to take?

    • Christopher Zoukis on December 22, 2018 at 10:50 am

      It depends on what provision you are talking about. Some will be automatic, while others can take some time to come into effect. There are some provisions which the inmate will not require the services of an attorney, while some court-oriented provision would benefit from an attorney’s involvement.

  9. ANISA JOINER on December 21, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    now that the president has signed the bill, what do the inmates who qualify need to do? does the government already have a list of those who qualify to be released? what are the steps the inmates need to take?

  10. tayna gooden on December 30, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    my brother is in the shelby county jail waiting for sentencing, He has signed a plea of guilty on some stuff he is not even guilty on . but if he didnt sign a plea they will consider he is not taking responsiblity for his crimes, which he is guilty of some of the chargesbut he is not guilty on some charges but he had to plea guilty or not guilty on all charges.he couldnt just plea guilty on what he was guilty on and not guilty on the ones he didnot do.he is being charged with ct1. conspiracy, ct2. distrubution with intent,ct3. felon with firearm. he is looking at a 20 year sentence would this new law knock his sentence down to 15 year sentence.

  11. Tina on January 7, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    Does the First Act apply to new convictions?

    • Christopher Zoukis on January 7, 2019 at 10:33 pm

      Different provisions of the First Step Act apply to different prisoners based on their individual circumstances. With this being said, the First Step Act does apply to all prisoners, those in for a long time and those newly sentenced.

  12. Mary on January 12, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    My question in reference to the First Step Act is will non-citizens also be eligible to receive the “54 Day,” or is this Act specifically for US citizens only? Number 5 has been scratched out, and then reads “This was changed in the final legislation.” My question is for all inmates who are Permanent Resident Aliens or have an illegal status in the US and will eventually be deported back to their country, do they also receive the “54 Day?”

  13. Glenn Bosworth on January 12, 2019 at 10:18 pm

    Where in the 113 page First Step Act document is the 54 day versus 47 day Good Time Credit issue addressed? I plan on filing a civil lawsuit for having spent 63 days too long in prison due to the misinterpretation of the law under 18 U.S.C. 3624(b)….I think that is the GTC statute…….

  14. Gina on January 13, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    when will they start to releases names for the federal prison reform bill. my husband as been lock -up since Dec,18,2015 I would like to no if he will be one of the lucky ones that will be released early. He has realized now how much he has take advance of this time to focus on his life to make it better in the future. He has regrets on what he has done in his passed,and everyone he has hurt a long the way.

  15. Krystal Rodgers on January 17, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    Where do I begin?
    My husband is serving a 3.5 year sentence in North Carolina. Our residence is in central Florida. Under the First Step Act, how do I find out if my husband qualifies to be closer to home? Should I contact a lawyer?

  16. Scarlett on January 26, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    If a inmate has 25 months left on their sentences. How much time will they have left to do under The First Step Act? My boyfriend was sentences to do 25 years back in 2005. As of Jan. 1 he has 25 months left.

  17. carm on February 4, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    I have a brother in law that was given 20 years on 3/2015 for intent to distribute but he didn’t have nothing with him .does he quilfy for early dismissel

  18. katandra jackson on March 17, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Mr Brandon I have a question. My fiance served time in the past ,and is incarcerated now for a drug charge ,my question is how does the prison reform affect prior convictions if time was already served.can they use this against him wanting to be released under no the prison reform bill ? Thank you

  19. Tracy Gibson on March 24, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    Hello my question is if my loved one was arrested on federal drug charges and sentenced on a 10 years plea agreement in 2010 but received a life sentence. First time and non violent offender would he fall under this reform. As we keep getting conflicting answers on the dates Regards the years. this seems to be a great opportunity for re-entry back into society.

  20. Mary on May 18, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    would like to know how to apply for this act for my son in prison

  21. jan on May 18, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    My experience solidifies the belief that the CJS is rigged against those with disabilities, where taking an unjust plea bargain becomes the only option. My young adult son, to everyone’s confusion, had a second arrest for possession CP, and it was then, thru rigorous assessments, discovered he was suffering from neurodevelopmental HFASD. Autism masked by high intelligence and the extraordinary support services given to him for several learning disabilities. High intellect with under 10 yrs of age social skills. Until arrest, he had lived a stellar life of accomplishments.
    We have been assured by his well regarded psychiatrists that with their well thought out program, my son will have ” 0% chance of recidivism” .
    Question: how might this be applied to TBA Risk Assessment, and ought my son to have a lawyer present during assessments. We no longer trust what we have found to be a corrupted media, the U.S. C.J.S, and our legislators looking only for votes and not justice.

  22. Mary Link on June 10, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    How does this law effect someone convicted of child pornography. our nephew was given two 20 year sentences that were to be served consecutively, so 40 years. He has served approximately 7 years and thinks he may get out soon. Is this possible? What if there is new evidence that was not known at the time of trial/conviction? How is this handled?

    Thank you for any information that you can provide.

  23. GEORGE Z MEDREK on August 20, 2019 at 10:06 am


  24. norma rogers on November 9, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Can you please help answer some questions for me ? My fiancé is currently serving 4 years at Jesup FCI. He is 75 years old and Im wondering how the First Act might assist an early release. I am also somewhat confused regarding how GCT and credits are applied to the sentence

  25. Randy Cowan on December 9, 2019 at 2:20 am

    I see that the risk and needs assessment tool is supposed to be enacted by now, but hasn’t. No programs are being offered as of today 12/08/19. Though my Loved one doesn’t qualify for early release, she can receive 510 phone minutes for participating but nothing is being offered, do you know anything about this Brandon?
    Ps: Thanks for all you do!

  26. Don McGraw on March 14, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    I have a son in Leakesville MS prison. He received a 12 yr sentence for the following crimes committed in a time space from 2001 and 2018
    !. Possession of pot with the intent to sell less than an ounce
    2. arson assessor after the fact
    3..The sale of opioids to an informant
    I am a 100% disabled VietNam vet suffering from P.T.S.
    I am having great difficulty coping with his incrassation. My wife and I have pleaded with the authorities to bring him closer to home in Como MS.
    Our pleas have landed on deaf ears.
    I fear for my Sons life and mine.
    Can you please discuss details with me
    Thank you Don McGraw

  27. brandy price on May 13, 2020 at 7:56 pm

    Hi ,y name is Brandy Price, Im writing on the behalf my boyfriend who is currently at FCI Hazelton and I’m trying to figure how to do appeal or a first step Act… he has a 20 year sentence but has done 14… he meant the requirement for the reduce sentence under the 21 U.S.C. 841 to reduce his sentence to 15 years and was giving 18 U.S.C 924 (c) “stacking”. can you direct me where I need to go!! to start the process..

  28. Berenda Slade on September 18, 2020 at 9:29 am

    How can an inmate get good time credits, how can they earn extra halfway house time or time off for supervise release, also what classes to take to qualify for the evidence-based recidivism reduction program or productive activities.

Leave a Comment

Recommended for you

Federal Halfway House – Everything You Need To Know

Over the past several weeks, I have received numerous e-mails and calls from different individuals concerning federal halfway house placements that have been reduced significantly—or denied entirely—by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”). What is going on? A variety of things, it seems. I.  Federal Halfway House – A Brief Overview The BOP has long…

Read More

The First Step Act Bill Summary Explained : A Comprehensive Analysis

The First Step Act 2018 Bill Summary: On December 21, 2018, the President signed into law The First Step Act 2018, a bipartisan effort to reform the federal criminal justice system. The Law Office of Brandon Sample has assembled this detailed analysis of the First Step Act 2018 to help the public understand the ins…

Read More

Sentencing Reform And Federal Prison News – January 2018

We are a week into 2018 and there is much buzz about what lies ahead in the year from the courts, Congress, and the U.S. Sentencing Commission for federal prison and sentencing reform. Here’s a summary of some of the highlights. (a) Congress – Sentencing Reform Different bills remain under consideration, but none have yet…

Read More