First Step Act of 2018
On December 21, 2018, President Donald Trump signed into law the First Step Act of 2018 (P.L. 115- 391). The Act enacted “commonsense reforms to make the U.S. justice system fairer and help inmates successfully transition back into society” []. The Act has three major components: (1) correctional reform via the establishment of a risk and needs assessment system at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP), (2) sentencing reform via changes to penalties for some federal offenses, and (3) the reauthorization of the Second Chance Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-199). The Act also contains a series of other criminal justice-related provisions, for example, changes to the way good time credits are calculated for federal prisoners, prohibiting the use of restraints on pregnant inmates, expanding the market for products made by the Federal Prison Industries, and requiring BOP to aid prisoners with obtaining identification before they are released.
Second Chance Act of 2007 Reauthorization
The Second Chance Act of 2007 Reauthorization (Title V of the First Step Act) reauthorizes many of the grant programs that were initially authorized by the Second Chance Act of 2007 (P.L. 110- 199). The Second Chance Act of 2007 Reauthorization contained additional requirements for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in placing inmates in home confinement generally and in reestablishing and expanding a pilot program to remove elderly and terminally ill inmates from BOP facilities and place in home confinement.
Executive Order 13826
Prior to the passage of the First Step Act, President Trump signed Executive Order 13826 in March 2018. This Order further codifies the Administration’s commitment to not only prevent crime in the first place, but also to provide those who have engaged in criminal activity with greater opportunities to lead productive lives. The Order asserts that, through Administration policy and federal legislation, the government can assist in breaking the cycle of crime through a comprehensive strategy that addresses a range of issues, including mental health, vocational training, job creation, after-school programming, substance abuse, and mentoring. Learn more about Executive Order 13826 and the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry.
Published August 31, 2020 by the United States Sentencing Commission
The First Step Act of 2018 includes five provisions related to sentencing reform. This publication examines the impact of the First Step Act of 2018, analyzing data from the first year following its enactment, compared to data from fiscal year 2018—the last full fiscal year prior to its enactment.
Nathan James, Congressional Research Service (March 4, 2019)
This report provides an overview of the provisions of the First Step Act, including details on the Reauthorization of the Second Chance Act.
U.S. Department of Justice (July 19, 2019)
This press release summarizes the changes to be implemented under the First Step Act, including around fair sentencing and new and expanded programs and policies.
U.S. Department of Justice (June 2, 2020)
This report addresses the request by the Committees on Appropriations and Judiciary for updates on all actions and expenditures to implement the FSA, including activities, expenditures, and resource requirements to develop, implement, review, validate, and maintain the risk and needs assessment, and to evaluate and provide evidence-based recidivism reduction programs and productive activities.
E. Ann Carlson, Bureau of Justice Statistics (March 9, 2020)
In this first report required under The First Step Act (FSA), the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Prisoner Statistics program presents data from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on selected characteristics of prisoners and their participation in treatment programs as well as some facility-level statistics, such prisoner behavior and facility characteristics related to accreditation, on-site health care, remote learning, and more. The statistics in this report are for calendar year 2018, which is prior to the enactment of the FSA, and were collected in 2019.
This page provides a general overview of how the First Step act affects Bureau of Prisons (BOP) inmates and their families, highlights the impact of the Act, offers answers to frequently-asked questions, provides resources about the required risk and needs assessment system, and invites submission of evidence-based recidivism
NIJ plays a key role in major components of the Act and assists the Attorney General in (1) assessing the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ existing prisoner risk and needs assessment system, (2) developing and evaluating a new risk and needs assessment system, and (3) developing recommendations regarding effective evidence-based recidivism reduction programs and activities, and conducting research and data analysis on evidence-based programs and assessment tools.
 The White House. April 1, 2019. President Donald J. Trump Is Committed to Building on the Successes of the First Step Act. Online at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-committed-building-successes-first-step-act/.