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The First Step Act and Reentry  

Author:  Malcolm C. Young.

Source: Volume 29, Number 01, Fall 2019 , pp.9-16(8)

Journal of Community Justice (formerly Journal of Community Corrections)

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The First Step Act brought real if modest reforms to federal criminal justice, promising an earlier release for thousands of incarcerated individuals, humanitarian relief for others, and increased programing within the Bureau of Prisons. But as a law intended to improve federal reentry, the FSA falls short. It is misguided by a near-obsession with “recidivism reduction,” relies on programs that have not been shown to be effective in reducing recidivism and are not, in any event, funded sufficiently to achieve the FSA’s objectives. The FSA places an outsized reliance on risk assessments as the sole tool by which to sort out individuals who will and will not have sentences modified downward. And, the FSA does little to address longstanding inadequacies in federal reentry. This paper describes the FSA’s shortcomings in reentry and proposes solutions to correct them, including a role for community corrections agencies.

Keywords: First Step Act (FSA), criminal justice reform, Bureau of Prisons, reentry, recidivism reduction, PATTERN, risk assessments

Affiliations:  1: Projectnewopportunity.org.

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