What You Need to Know About the First Step Act

judge ,attorney and the prisoner in the court hearingIn 2018, then President Trump signed the First Step Act. It was meant to bring fairness to the rules of sentencing in the federal prison system and reduce the number of people currently in the country’s federal prisons.

Sentencing Reform

The act shortens sentences and gives judges the option of giving defendants shorter sentences than what the mandatory minimums require. Judges immediately began to use this option after this part of the law went into effect after it was signed. In addition, prisoners convicted on crack cocaine charges before 2010 were now eligible to receive shorter sentences.

Prison Reform

Prison reform was meant to improve federal prisons. One way that they did this was to end all inhumane practices. Another was to focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. This portion of the reform must have the cooperation and approval of Congress, so it is moving much more slowly.


Before 2010, a defendant convicted of possessing 5 grams of crack cocaine could receive a similar sentence to someone convicted of possessing 500 grams of crack cocaine. The Fair Sentencing Act stopped sentences such as the one described above in 2010, but if the prisoner was convicted before 2010, he was left to finish his draconian sentence. The First Step Act reduced the sentences for those convicted before 2010 and approximately 3,000 others. Each year, nearly 2,000 people receive sentences that are 20% shorter than they would have been before 2010.

The improvements listed above have led to a significant amount of time removed from prisoners’ sentences, resulting in approximately 5,000 former prisoners being released from federal prison since the First Step Act came into being.

Nobles & Yanez can answer any questions you have about this Act. We can schedule a free consultation and discuss how these new drug laws can help you or  a loved one being charged with or convicted of possession of drugs. Contact us today.