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Inmates to be released under First Step Act

Federal inmates in Georgia and elsewhere could be beneficiaries of the First Step Act. The law aims to make compassionate release and home confinement programs more accessible and take other steps to improve the criminal justice system. A little more than 3,100 federal inmates will be released from custody starting July 19 as authorities begin to implement the law. The Department of Justice says that 250 people have been released already since the legislation was signed into law in December 2018.

While the DOJ has said that it intends to implement the law fully, some are skeptical that this could happen. Critics say that the attorney general holds outdated views on crime and punishment that could conflict with the ideals of the First Step Act. According to a representative from the Justice Action Network, Congress should provide the oversight needed to ensure that authorities comply with the law.

There have also been concerns about a risk assessment tool that will be used to determine which inmates should be given credit toward an early release. Specifically, some are worried that it will be used to disproportionately label minorities as a higher risk. Democrats have also cried foul about the entity chosen to oversee the use of the assessment tool. They claim that the Hudson Institute is biased and cannot be trusted.

Individuals who have been charged with drug crimes may spend years or decades in prison if convicted. This could be true even for those who were in possession of small quantities of drugs like marijuana. A drug crime defense attorney may be able to help a person avoid prison or other penalties related to a drug charge. This may be done by asserting that an individual did not intend to possess or distribute controlled substances.

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