DOJ announces release of 3,100 inmates as part of criminal reform push
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The Department of Justice announced Friday that 3,100 federal inmates are being released as part of the criminal justice reform bill President Trump signed into law last year.
At the same time, it published new standards to identify other inmates who may be eligible for the procedure.
“Starting today at prisons around the country, nearly 3,100 inmates are being released from BOP (Bureau of Prisons) custody due to the increase in good conduct time applied to reduce their sentences under the First Step Act,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen told reporters.
It marks the largest group to be freed so far under a clause in the First Step Act that reduces sentences due to "earned good time." In addition to reuniting with their families, the formerly incarcerated citizens hope to get employment opportunities announced by Trump last month at the White House as part of the "Second Chance" hiring program.
The bill’s retroactive application of the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act has so far resulted in 1,691 sentence reductions, the department said in a press release.
The department announced Friday that in addition to the early releases, the Department is moving $75 million in existing resources to fund the bill in fiscal year 2019, as well as launching a new “risk and needs assessment system designed to assess inmates’ risks of recidivism and to identify their individualized needs to reduce their risks of re-offending.”
Through that system, inmates will have the chance to have time reduced and participate in recidivism reduction programs.
Attorney General William Barr watches as inmates work in a computer class during a tour of a federal prison Monday, July 8, 2019, in Edgefield, S.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
“Our communities are safer when we do a better job of rehabilitating offenders in our custody and preparing them for a successful transition to life after incarceration,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement. “The Department is committed to and has been working towards full implementation of the First Step Act, which will help us effectively deploy resources to help reduce risk, recidivism, and crime."
The bill marked a major legislative victory when it was passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed by Trump in December.
The bill gives federal judges more leeway when sentencing some drug offenders and boosts prisoner rehabilitation efforts. It also would reduce life sentences for some drug offenders with three convictions, or "three strikes," to 25 years.
It brought a moment of rare unity among Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, although some conservatives such as Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., described the bill as a “jailbreak.”
Fox News’ Jake GIbson, Caleb Parke and The Associated Press contributed to this report.