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Understanding the FIrst Step Act

| Jun 30, 2019 | Criminal Defense |

People in Wisconsin who have been charged with criminal offenses have long been subject to some extended sentences due to laws that enforce mandatory minimums for the amount of time to be spent in a jail or a prison. Today, some defendants will not experience the same harshness that others have. This is due to some of the provisions in the First Step Act, signed recently by the President.

As reported by Vox, the new law reduces some of the required minimum sentences for people convicted of select drug offenses. It also addresses some of the automatic sentences that have previously been applied. For example, a person who was convicted of three drug sentences might have automatically been ordered to spend life in prison. That sentence is now reduced to 25 years.

The Marshall Project also explains that the First Step Act retroactively applies reduced sentences to as many as 2,600 people in federal prisons for non-violent drug offenses. This law does not guarantee automatic release as inmates must apply for release but it provides a potential for them to be reintroduced into society sooner. Not every element of the law is retroactive like this one is.

Some people in prisons may be able to get released sooner than their sentences would have mandated by earning credits while in prison. Another topic the law addresses is familial relationships. People who must go to federal prisons are now supposed to be placed close to their families, when and where that is possible. This may help them maintain relationships while they are incarcerated.