The Crime Report published an article about how the Federal First Step Act continues to make a difference in penalties received by those who recidivate. The First Step Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in 2018. It allowed for offenders that were going to receive a minimum mandatory penalty or sentence to be reevaluated to reduce sentences that were unjust. The First Step Act also limited the “stacking” of penalties that would land individuals in prison for 25 years or more and has reduced these prison terms to five, seven or ten years.

The Commission said, “the number of federal offenders who got increased sanctions because of a record of previous offenses dropped by 15.2 percent, from 1,001 in fiscal year 2018 to 849 in the first year of First Step.” Even though in the past individuals had committed serious violent penalties, it did not subject them to more severe penalties based on this. “Of the 849 offenders subject to that provision of the law, only 36 had been convicted of one or more qualifying ‘serious violent felony’ offenses.” Only 11 were subject to enhanced penalties for convictions in which a weapon, robbery or assault was involved.

The First Step Act also created the allowance of offenders to seek “compassionate release” from prison by going to court instead of going to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. 145 inmates were granted compassionate release in the first year of the First Step Act compared to only 24 before the law was in effect. There is still a lot of work to be done surrounding reducing recidivism and helping individuals when it comes to penalties but many are hopeful the First Step Act will continue to help those and be the first step when it comes to moving towards a rehabilitative system instead of a punitive one.


Community Supervision

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article about the First Step Act that went into effect end of July 2019. Within hours, 3,100 inmates qualified for release from long federal prison sentences that at the time of sentencing were imposed as a punitive measure. The First Step Act was enacted to try a more constructive approach to rehabilitation and justice reform. This new act changed the way justice is served by allowing judges to no longer abide by the “three strikes” rule of imposing life sentences when previously incarcerated felons commit a third crime, as well as nonviolent drug offenders no longer facing harsh minimum-sentencing rules. The new focus of the act is reducing recidivism and rewarding prisoners who participate in anti-recidivism programs by cutting their prison terms. 

Focusing on recidivism programs and allowing people in prison to have a chance to better themselves will improve their rehabilitation. The next step for the inmates is to focus on working through the programs and changing their behavior. They will be monitored with the hopes of reducing their prison sentences and proving punishment is not the answer to lowering recidivism. The bill has reverted the old ways to new ones that focus on rehabilitation and not punitive ways, as this is ineffective in reducing recidivism.

TRACKtech, LLC was created to reduce recidivism through rehabilitating inmates once they are released from prison. The TRACKphone platform is designed to provide program members with rehabilitative and life resources, as well as allow supervisors to monitor them with biometric identification and remote check-ins. TRACKtech works to provide program members with resources they need to become a functioning member of society, in the hopes of reducing recidivism and keeping them out of prison.