More than 3,100 people will leave Bureau of Prisons custody starting Friday, part of what Justice Department officials call “a truly monumental effort” to comply with the First Step Act, a criminal justice law passed by Congress last year.
Most of the offenders being freed have been convicted of drug-related crimes, and have been living in halfway houses across the United States in preparation for their release, acting BOP chief Hugh Hurwitz told reporters at a news conference in Washington.
Approximately 900 of the inmates are subject to immigration detention, and their fate now will be up to states or the Department of Homeland Security, he said.
The Justice Department announced that 250 more inmates who are elderly or terminally ill have transitioned into home confinement or compassionate release programs since President Trump signed the law last December.
Those programs existed in some form before the First Step Act, but advocates for prisoners and their families said they were used only sparinglyand now are somewhat easier to access.
“The department intends to implement this law fully and on time, with the goal of reducing crime, enhancing public safety and strengthening the rule of law,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
Authorities also unveiled a new risk assessment tool designed to identify prisoners who could benefit from prison programming that would allow them to win credits that count toward early release under the law.
Inmates will be reassessed every six months under that new program.
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